Wednesday, March 20, 2019


A recent run of posts in the blogosphere harkening back to "ye goode olde days" caused me to pull out my venerable copy of Peter Young's The Wargame, one of the foundational texts in my own misguided hobby development. This brings me around to the subject of this post, the stuff of which is not nostalgia. On no, dear reader! Instead, we are seeking to answer a great riddle imbedded in the aforementioned tome.  Unlike Poirot, our little gray cells have not been able to crack this case. Whilst squinting at the book again--and making no further progress (again), it came to me that I might tap the collective genius of the interwebs to crack the enigma, albeit at the cost of admitting my own failure.  Thus, after these many years, I am officially admitting my own inability to resolve the conundrum and offering it to the world. For those who are intrepid enough to delve into this puzzle, I bid you read on.  Fellow sleuths may gain a closer examination of the artifacts in the case by clixing pix for BIG PIX in this dossier.  And now, let us begin our story...
...Upon re-reading this favorite book, I was once again drawn to the chapter on the Battle of Saratoga, written by Aram Bakshian, Jr (coincidentally, he of the Feb 13 Blog Post).  Doing so, I once again thumbed to the above two-page spread on pages 74 and 75, the caption for which is a potted observation about the wooded terrain and the difficulty of British formed troops operating in same, with no specific reference to the scene in the picture.  So far, so good: an interesting and colorful vignette illustrating some general point...
...until, however, one looks closer and notices that there is a figure in the tree. The mystery grows: the figure is partially obscured but seems to be in shirt sleeves and trousers, generally a visual code for Rebel/Yankee--but we can't be sure. Then we notice that this enigma is suspended above a group of British officers: a coincidence?  Furthermore, the fellow's orientation is inverted: head-down (???). As if this isn't enough, the posture seems to indicate that the figure was modified for effect, the positioning of the legs in particular...
...Is he hiding? Hanging on? In the act of falling? Is he a British lookout? A Rebel eavesdropper?  Friend or foe? Has he been shot? Does anyone know he's up there? Although the caption is generic, the depiction seems to be idiosyncratic.  With no hint in the caption, we look further afield, but there is no allusion to an incident like this in the chapter. For those who don't have the book, here is a bit more information on the picture, for what it's worth. For one, the picture on pages 74 and 75 is only the right half a larger vignette, one that was actually used twice...
...Above you can see the left half of the same vignette.  This particular bit is a stand-alone placed on the opening page of the Saratoga chapter--with a different caption. You also get the distinct impression that there is a larger subject extending left and right out of the frames of both pictures.  I can think of two sources for this vignette: 

1) It could be from a museum, a historical site, or a diorama that was brought to one of the National Capital Military Figure Collector's shows or meetings (of which the author was an officer).  In these cases, there would have been an accompanying story--which probably included some context for the fellow in the tree.  That story might not have conveyed with the use of the image in the book, for whatever reason. This would at least give some kind of explanation, if not answer, to the scene. Unfortunately, the photo credit does not support this explanation.  These photos are simply credited to the book's photographer, Philip Stearns. It is worth pointing out that other external photo sources are credited. Thus, we would have to assume that the credit in this particular instance is less accurate than others (perhaps not too much of a leap to make).  Even then, though, we still don't have an answer for the tree-man (Perhaps to AWI enthusiasts this diorama is well known, and perhaps so, too, is the story of the tree-man?).

2) If we take the photo credit at face value, it would suggest that the vignette was not from some external source, but purposely composed and photographed for the book...but that brings us back around to the original puzzle: the missing explanation for the "strange fruit" in the tree.
The Meanderer: stumped by this complex puzzle.

Wise and worldly readers, is there one amongst you who can solve this riddle?

Sunday, March 10, 2019


I am pleased to announce, dear readers, that I have completed the rules and associated materials for my Thirty Years War based miniatures on a grid system Baroque Battles. The whole shebang can be had on the updated Miniatures on a Grid content page of this blog. Completing this project ranks up there with finishing off that long anticipated last unit in a major wargame army.
For those just arriving, this is a system that I've been using to run games for the last decade or so. The complete system is posted for download on the above-mentioned content page, so I won't repeat all of that here. For those looking for a description of the game, I recommend reading my introduction to the rules (okay, there is one link in this post, but it has context!).
In this post, I'll give some sneek peeks into what is available in the package, aside from the rules and player reference sheets (as usual, you may clix pix for Big Pix)...
Information on how I configured my miniatures (6mm figs).

A complete sets of cards to support play, two samples of which are above (a sheet of Commanders and a Sheet of Tactical Cards).

Two Scenarios: Lutzen (pictured above) and a generic "tournament" style scenario.

A complete set of desktop publishable paper "miniatures"--for a quick start or for "board game" style play in smaller spaces (or both!).  

A tutorial on making the gridded game mat.

A set of handy game markers

Even graphics for the card back patterns (for those who really want the full experience)

And some other stuff, I'm sure.

This is what I've been grinding away at for the last few weeks and something that I've wanted to get done for some time. Getting this heavy-duty project done marks the first step towards the emphasis for this year, completing this and other partially done projects on this page. I hope that it will be of interest.  

At this point, dear reader, I redirect your attention to the Miniatures on a Grid Content page to find all the components.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


Officer Writing a Letter: Gerard Borch (Old Master Picture Gallery Dresden). Yorck Project public domain image found on Wikimedia Commons

You may be wondering at the title of this post. In my reading of the fascinating memoirs of the Sieur du Pontis, who served as an officer in the French Army through much of the 17th Century (during the times of Henry IV, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV), I stumbled across an interesting tidbit. Trumpeters were used as couriers and messengers, hence the title of this post (which is a snippet from among the anecdotes in the memoir). This makes perfect sense when you think about it. Trumpeters dressed in the livery of their regiments, were very much like heralds--and they had to be doing something when their units were in barracks and they weren't out tootling.  At some point, I'll be doing an e-books for antiquarians on this memoir, but for now, we'll leave it off at that. Thus, here is the message that this virtual courier brings...

Regarding the several-weeks' lapse in blogovation here, dear readers, I wanted to drop a line to let you know that it wasn't for lack of hobby related activity--quite the contrary. Energies have instead been directed in following through on something I had long intended (and mentioned in my year end post)--fleshing out my miniatures on a grid system in a share-able form.
Given that I have been running games with this system for years, I thought that I was closer to having a finished product than I actually was. I should have known better: what project ever proves to be less involved than anticipated?  Nevertheless, I have been beavering away at it for several hours per day for the last two weeks now, and have cracked all the major hurdles and produced all the necessary components.  The end is in sight! I expect to have a complete system posted here within two weeks.


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