Thursday, May 21, 2015

"I Am A Fragment Of Rock Thrown Into Space."


"I am a fragment of rock thrown into space, is an epigram attested to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Did he dream of space travel as we do today? I wonder. Many of us have grown up imagineering possibilities of traveling to the moon, the planets in our neighborhood and to farthest stars. I want to go. Don't you? But we can't. So we do it within our imaginations, vicariously watching motion pictures or via games. So....

Here I am commanding a squadron of three nimble X Wing fighters escorting a truly massive Corellian Corvette captained by Chuck L. Our mission? Get to the other side of the table about 4-5 feet to the left on a cheerful and carefree Wednesday Game Night on May 20, 2015.

Bill?   Why are you in an open column of companies (fighters)?  
I won't talk about it!

After several turns of dogfights scattering ships everywhere, our combined firepower eroded Todd B's enemy Tie Fighter numbers. We had to do it fast because....

Oh wait a bit.    In the next turn, two of my X Wings flew under and through the Corellian Corvette. That was fun. Had I ended my turn on any portion of it's massive base, I would have collided with the big boy and suffered unfortunate damage. And another thing. Earlier I was very close to it and suffered collateral damage from pieces careening off it due to a special missile hit. I was too close and learned a lesson!

Okay back on flight path (track). We had to do it fast because....

A lot more Imperial fighters including Darth Vader (bottom left) were arriving to swarm us. Can't you just hear them from the earliest Star Wars motion pictures? John B. was itching to commence his swarm attack and would start doing so with his lead ships next turn. Chuck already had him under long range fire from the Corellian Corvette. Think WWII B-17s or Lancasters escorted by P 51s fighting off FW 190s.

Um.    Here I am again after having flown under the mother ship - this time in a closed column of fighters. The rules are generous about collisions like these. Usually you don't get to deploy special and extra skill attributes accorded to each different ship or pilot in situations like this. One I like is carrying an R2D2 droid to restore lost shields during  quieter moments of maneuvering.

Attributes can be bought or occur naturally. These are shown on the ship base. The Tie Fighter can swerve to avoid incoming weapons fire, do a barrel roll and that eye piece allows changing misses to hits and more which I do not remember. See their symbols on the right side of the Tie base? Forty-five degree firing arcs are also shown in Tie Fighter green or X Wing Red.

The game comes with decks of cards for damage, cardboard firing sticks (Old School again! Yes!),  fire and defense dice, plus clever maneuver sticks and dials. The space cloth is from another game owned by Chuck.

Who won? We don't know because at 9:40 pm we realized it was time to go home. If only we could use The Force to slow down time with a waive of the hand.

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1) See https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/x-wing/

2) Chuck, John and Todd have an amazing variety of ships. B Wings. Y Wings and lots more.

3) Chuck hosted at his home. We all agree this is a fun and easy game system. And some of us get to use Napoleonic tactics in Outer Space!

4) Comments welcome below the Asteroid Belt. Look down please.
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hastenbeck Battlefield Pictures


The Obensberg viewed from the French approach. Chevert would march through the gap on the far right and attack the mountain from the rear.

A few of us were discussing the Battle of Hastenbeck in 1757. So I dug out some of my old photos that I took in 1994, after the conclusion of the Christopher Duffy Tour of Fredrician battlefields.



A closer view of the Hanoverian left flank. Again we can see the gap in the hills through which Chevert marched.

Here is a view of the backside of the Obensberg. Chevert attacked the Hanoverian left-rear from here. The ascent does not look as difficult from this side of the mountain.

A closer view of where Chevert launched his attack into the Hanoverian left rear.

Hastenbeck town. The Obensberg is visible in the background.

Walking up a farm road from Hastenbeck towards the Hanoverian center.

The ascent in the center gets steeper.

A view of the top of the ridge after the ascent. Mike Becker is seen atop the hill for perspective.

Looking back towards the town of Hastenbeck. You can see the Hanoverian right flank off in the distance on the right near where the thicker group of trees are.

The only monument on the battlefield.



Here are a few pictures that I took at the  battlefield of Hastenbeck in Germany, circa 1994.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hosting BIG Multi-Player Games

One of the most anticipated types of wargame experiences is a BIG multi-player wargame with lots of players and many miniatures. Often they are played on very large table surfaces and last an entire day. I've had the opportunity to organize or help with many of these over forty years. Each game taught me something new and vital to make these opportunities better and better -- for the players.

Are you hosting a BIG or even medium-sized wargame in 2015? Are you playing in one? Do you want to host one of these terrific experiences some day? Do you think someone might benefit with useful tips? May I therefore take the liberty to suggest buying....

Charles S. Grant's, The Wargamers' Annual 2015 published by Caliver Books last month. Go to www.caliverbooks.com or inquire with wargame book vendors with whom you give your trade.

Above please note the lower right-hand corner photo showing Mr. Playfair explaining his BIG wargame to eager players. One isn't so eager though. He has another disreputable agenda.


The mistakes I caused and lessons learned are codified in the article I wrote titled above, The Case Of Mr. Playfair's Woeful Big Participation Games. It begins with Mrs. Playfair speaking with a celebrated consulting detective and his loyal associate. She fears her husband, Mr. Playfair, is becoming disillusioned about the big games he loves to host. She is right. Apparently there is a presence ruining them.

I wrote the article for you - to help you - not repeat my mistakes and errors of others I've witnessed. A BIG wargame is a singularly different activity. Effort to produce one is enormous for everyone. It is also a fragile thing, easily ruined, without corrective procedures.

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The 2015 Annual has an appealing variety of other articles. These will make for good easy reading and are chock full of insight, lovely images and more.
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PS
Enlarge the second photo to read a small portion of the article.

Monday, December 29, 2014

British Heavy Cavalry Wearing A Cuirass


Frankly I am unconvinced the topic of who did and did not wear a cuirass in the British or French cavalry service during the Seven Years' War has been adequately researched. We've had a collective hive mind view they did not going back to the late 1960s. This has been based on very little first person evidence or citations. 

I've had  Cecil C. P. Lawsons, A History Of The Uniforms Of The British Army for forty years. When rereading some of it in the spring of 2009, I found this in Volume II on p. 145.

British Heavy Cavalry Cuirass
 “5th July 1758. The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards being ordered on immediate Foreign Service and it being necessary they should immediately be provided with a complete set of cuirasses and skull caps, which they have not time to provide in the ordinary way, I desire you will acquaint the Board of Ordinance that it will greatly facilitate the service if they will give directions for them being furnished with complete sets of cuirasses and skull caps from H M stores, on their being replaced by others or paid for by the Royal regiment of Horse Guards as the Board of Ordinance shall think fit.” Barrington

“In 1760 the 3rd. Horse (6th Dragoon Guards) and 4th Horse (7th Dragoon Guards) were also provided with cuirasses and skulls.”

Today (December 29, 2014) while reading Brent Nosworthy's, The Anatomy of Victory Battle Tactics 1689-1763 this appeared on p 132. “Initially, the British cavalry had no body armor, but in 1707 Marlborough gave his cavalry a cuirass in front.” Yes this is fifty years before the Seven Years' War. It is still an eye-opener.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gildershaven


Date: 6 December 1756/2014
Location: Gildershaven, Germania
Situation: Welcome to Prosperous Germania!
Was? (What?) Our Annual Lt. Troop BAR Game

Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 BAR
To obtain a copy for Christmas, see oldregimerules.com
BAR is for BIG Battalion and small sized units too.

Our annual BAR Light Troop Game is held the first Saturday in December. On this occasion each player had mission orders specific to the soldiers under his command. Some were hungry. Others desired to increase the 100 Marks each actually held in small USA coinage; pennies $.01, nickels $.05, dimes $.10 and quarters $.25. One penny equalled one mark. You'll see why in a moment.

The following pre-game photos show picturesque environs around the Port of Gildershaven especially for our ten participants and all viewers too. 

Looking east across a huge Miniature Building Authority Bridge. A little to the east, guards are posted to collect tolls for use of the bridge whether east or westbound. In the far distance is Gildershaven.

Guards in the previous photo are off image to the left. Additional guards are posted in the tower.

Aerial view of the tower and intersection. The officer there thinks something is approaching the bridge from west (left). However, he is unsure. Perhaps it is nothing.

The port of Gildershaven. 

Far to the east of the harbor enclosed fields, animals and homes are at peace. Idyllic isn't it?

To the right (south) of the homes you just viewed is the Gildershaven Inn. It is from Miniature Building Authority and often appears in our BAR games.

THE GAME BEGINS IN THE WEST

Late in the forenoon, the toll gate guard was being relieved when...

Cossacks began crossing the bridge into Germania from the west. 
(Cossacks commanded by and from the collection of Michael M.)

Suspicious of mischief, the original and the relief guards formed up to support one of their officers who halted the riders. He demanded to know their identity, reason for travel in Germania and 1/2 Mark per man. Happily for everyone, the toll was paid.

The commanding officer, (Dan W.) was delighted by the 19 Marks collected ($.19 if I recall correctly) not only for The Duke of Germania but also for himself. He felt minimal relief that an incident did not occur.

After paying the toll, the Cossacks rode quietly eastwards. Some appeared to be very hungry as they cast eyes left and right.

It was difficult to ascertain, but some thought a few Cossacks dismounted to quickly dart behind these buildings to steal geese.

Michael had orders to feed all his starving men before 2:00 p.m. real time or lose men that would run off foraging on their own. Fortunately none did.

Others thought it odd a band of Cossacks were promenading within Germania so far from home. These included a body of Gallian Bercheney Hussars guarding the flank of Lanciers de Saxe. The latter were escorting important female members of the Gallian court.

Eventually the Lanciers de Saxe turned to the flank to protect their V.I.P.s. The toll gate guard formed up to assist the party as well.

The V.I.P.s were Colonel Enigma, Lady Diana Pettygree to his left on the grey flanked by Lady Belle Silhouette a la Hussar. Following in pink is Lady Cherish Masquerade and a lady's maid. Everyone was in haste to cross the bridge off image to the right.

Even the tower and toll gate guards were worried as they followed in the wake of the Cossacks. The Gallians (Curt B.) successfully got the ladies across the bridge with the Lanciers de Saxe galloping behind them. Not shown: the Cossacks turned about to attack the Bercheney Hussars who died almost to a man protecting the Gallian courtiers escape. 

In so doing the Cossacks looted each Bercheney casualty. Michael and Curt threw D6s versus each other. If Michael won, he looted one mark ($.01) from the casualty.  

Sometime later the Cossacks reversed course and galloped over the bridge to escape a vortex of trouble that began swirling about them.

CONCURRENTLY IN THE EAST

Another body of roving Cossacks arrived. These trotted west and then south at the bend in the road. Farmers and animals appear unconcerned. (Cossacks commanded by and from the collection of John M.)

As they approached the Gildershaven Inn they heard.... 

Casual hoof beats of the previously mentioned party of Gallians escorted close behind by none other than....

The Duke of Germania, (Chris K.) The surprised Duke stopped the Cossacks demanding to know the reason for their appearance within his domain. Sufficient reasons were offered and marks were paid to the Duke. Then each body went on their way.

However, things went wrong. These Cossacks were starving similarly to their brothers miles away to the west. Once the Duke was out of sight, the Cossacks plundered the Inn. Three D6s were thrown for marks. Another three D6s were thrown for food.

Unknown to the Cossacks and The Duke, a body of Germanian Light Horsemen had been shadowing the former raiders. Their mission (Keith L.) was to pursue and attack the Cossacks. When it became apparent the Cossacks were looting the Inn, the Germanian Light cavalry dismounted and moved forward.

Learning about and hearing the mayhem, The Duke returned with his own light horsemen, dismounted them and began a close investment.

This was too much for the Cossacks. Several parties mounted up behind the Inn moving on diverse courses to flee. One body (above) was caught by some of the Dukes Chasseurs a Cheval and cut down.

Another party was cut down by Keith L's men. The raiders were unable to find an exit out of an enclosed field. The celebrated Bosnian Lancers took no prisoners.

THE VORTEX IN THE CENTER

We see the same party of Gallians arriving at The Port of Gildershaven.  In the upper right of the image are The Duke's Chasseurs A Cheval before these turned about to attack the Cossacks then looting the Inn.

The dock and supporting buildings at the Port of Gildershaven.

Harbormaster (John B.) stands beside the log building with a guard as riders come in under a parlay flag.

Their troop of Hussars wait a little distance away.

Then the Hussars fan out. This caused the Gallians to leave the road and head overland to the west for adventures described at the beginning of this narrative. Black coated infantry follow the Hussars. Who are they?

The mysterious body spread out around the port as a black and red coach maneuvers to the dock.

Another view.

Sometime later after marks are paid to the Harbormaster, black coated men and apparently a disguised woman of importance departed the harbor for parts unknown. Soldiers associated with this enigmatic group then....

Dispersed to the winds near the harbor and....

To the eastern bridge far away. These were all from the collection of Der Alte Fritz, Jim P. who with Earl K. commanded them all.

To no doubt distress Germanians at the abandoned Toll Gate. The Hussars are in the upper right of the image supported by a rough looking group of Black Hussars. None of this mysterious force fired a shot. We surmise their mission was to get the disguised woman out of the area. Her identity remains a mystery.


CLOSING RMARKS

(1) Everyone was present for duty by 10:00 a.m. Chris K. brought a bottle of wine to share. I took the occasion to toast ourselves as a very companionable group and stated how much I appreciated all of them and for all they've contributed over the years. A second toast was offered for the celebrated miniatures designer and entrepreneur, the late Peter Gilder, for his classic miniatures, personal style and indeed his teaching about the marketing of selling toy soldiers to one member present.

(2) Written orders and various other important details were distributed to each player. No one knew anything other than what was then on the table and within their orders. Fog of War was essential.

(3) Movement was by card draw. Five sets of four cards each were assembled and shuffled multiple times. Each set had one Heart, Diamond, Club and Spade. Cossacks and the mysterious black uniformed brigade moved on a Club or Spade. Germanians moved only on a Diamond. Lady Pettygree and the Umpire activated on either a Heart or Diamond. This is not routine for BAR but it worked to give flexibility to those who most needed it.

(4) Cards were not used for Fire. Instead, players threw a D6 versus each other. The winner fired first; the loser second. A tie caused simultaneous fire. This is also not routine for BAR. I instituted it to make turns go faster.

(5) Also to help turns move faster, a kitchen timer was used. If someone was not finished at the end of five minutes, unmoved miniatures were frozen. It happened only once.

(6) The game started at 10:40 a.m. and concluded around 3:00 p.m. including a break for lunch. My wife brought down a sandwich tray, cole slaw and to this was added other scrumptious items brought by participants. Thank you everyone!

(7) Miniatures to real men ratio: 1:1.

(8) Who won? Everyone! How? Every participant achieved individual mission goals. Those who profited the most were The Duke and Toll Gate Commander.

(9) After the game we feasted on a delicious birthday cake to celebrate Michael's imminent birthday.


(10) Chuck and Todd unfortunately could not be present. However, they received compliments through me about vegetation placed around the harbor. It all came from aquarium departments in pet stores. Hedges were from Chuck's collection of scratch-built Normandy bocage.

(11) The harbor was made as follows. The top of 1/2" thick Homasote fiber boards was painted with a very thick house white primer paint. Really thick. After drying, Liquitex Professional Acrylic Artist Color, Soft Body, Phthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade) was spread on top. I worked at it to so it appeared shallow and deep in various places. White showing through gives the illusion of a sandy bottom. The whiter it is the shallower it appears.

(12) Not very many shots or hand to hand combats occurred. Players were busy trying to avoid conflict while adding to their wealth, avoiding starvation or trying to get away. There was constant negotiation. Afterwards someone said it was more like a role playing game.

(13) OUR COMPANIONABLE GANG OF TEN
Seated left to right: Harbormaster John B., Gallian Troupe Curt B., Germanian Light Cavalry Keith L. and Black Legion Earl K.

Standing left to right: The Duke of Germania Chris K., Eastern Area Cossacks John M., Black Legion Jim P., Tower & Toll Gate Commander Dan W., Western Area Cossacks Michael M. and yours truly the Umpire Bill P.

Thanks a million pards!
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(14) Participants and readers are very welcome to post remarks below at Comments. Same will appear after review due to an unwelcome spammer. However, I check the site daily so the wait won't be long.
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