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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Sunday, October 12, 2014

PIKE & SHOT


Some of my historical time periods are idle. So when thoughts returned and conversations developed recently about The Grand Alliance, percolations bubbled up to the surface. My collection is not large but here are my French circa 1680-1700 with some very preliminary thoughts. Click on images to enlarge them.

Régiment Picardie's 1st and 2nd Battalions. 
Each has three divisions, one pike and two with muskets.

Uniforms were exactly copied from a striking color painting in the book Drapeaux et Étendards Du Roi. It is entitled Détachement du régiment de Picardie vers 1680. (Aquarelle Rousselot, copyright Musée de l'Armée) Rousselot's paintings spanned several French time periods. They are exquisite.

This is an era  where many flags are carried. The Rousselot painting shows three. Hence, three GMB 18th century flags were posted in each battalion. The white national flag of Louis XIV is properly carried on the right while Battalion flags are to it's left. Only the first battalion would have the white flag. The second battalion shown previously carries three red flags. The same can be said for third and fourth battalions. Miniatures are 28mm Foundry castings.

As 1700 neared the percentage of pikes reduced several times - eventually being abandoned. Here they are 1/3 of each 48 casting battalion. This way each division would at least start equally and perhaps the whole produces an attractive ensemble. One casting equals ten real soldiers.

Maison du Roi Gendarmes. Thirty-six 28mm Foundry castings. 

GMB supplied the flags for these two bodies. 

Maison du Roi Grenadiers a Cheval. Some will know the coat color eventually changed to dark blue. However, this early it was still red. Twelve 28mm Front Rank castings. The flag is from GMB. 


The above references are only a diminutive sample of Pike & Shot resources available to us. Brigadier Peter Young wrote voluminously about the English Civil War; (middle of the 17th Century). My own rules book dated from 1977 was produced as a result of his excellent research and writing style. Not shown is Robert S. Quimby's The Background of Napoleonic Warfare. It offers a gold mine of information about theory, formations and tactics for the late 17th and all of the 18th century. 

The Future:

1) My French are itching to get out of their storage box and onto the tabletop again. The contingent is not large though there may be another regiment of cavalry and a third battalion to paint in storage. Kurt and Rob can add significantly more to make games possible.

2) Organization. It could change given unknowns. However, I based my hommes so I could switch castings in and out to form different structures. Another idea I had when starting this was to paint a multi-battalion regiment of infantry. That's why Picardie has two. If I remember correctly, it could have up to four in the mid-18th Century anyway.

3) Bill. You only have guard cavalry! I know. Well, they wore gorgeous uniforms and they can always pretend to be non-guard. Anyone for the Chevalier de Protz Cavalerie Régiment - non-guard? 

4) Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 has been adapted to the Pike & Shot era. Movement rates were slowed somewhat from the 1750s. It had to be based on Quimby's remarks. The first fire bonus has been cut down a little. Anyone with matchlocks will fire just a wee bit less effectively than flintlocks. Cavalry versus pike blocks will be tough on the horsemen. Artillery has been slowed considerably. Mobile would not be a word to describe the 4, 8, 12 and 16 pounders found in the French Army. Even the occasional so-called light French 4 or 8 pounder that did exist at the time will not be fleet of foot. There are also 1-3 and 6 pounders available for other nations.

Anyhow, I'm suggesting we try BAR Pike & Shot for now.

5) Games: We are in the earliest stage of figuring out when some dice can be thrown in a first game using Grand Alliance units. November possibly. However, this morning it occurred to me I can test the rules during our occasional weeknight games using my collection of English Civil War Pike & Shot units. The latter want to get out of their storage boxes too! Weeknight games last about two hours. If unfinished, we return the next week to conclude them.

6) Am I abandoning other time periods? Not at all. BAR 18th Century and BAR Colonial (General Pettygree) will continue soldiering on as will occasional Blitzkrieg Commander II WWII games, BAR Napoleonic Iberia and a potpourri of many weeknight genres; Pulp, Space Combat, Battle of Britain, WWII Skirmish and Westerns. I've probably forgotten something. Yes: Lost in the South Pacific Adventure.

7) Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

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Your remarks are welcome below. Feel free to chat at Comments. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Minden Miniatures Kickstarter Campaign for Artillery Equipment




I initiated a Kickstarter campaign to provide crowd funding for a new range of SYW Austrian and Russian artillery equipment. You can click on the link below to read more details about the campaign

SYW Artillery Kickstarter


The initial goal of $3,000 has been reached so that means that the Austrian artillery equipment is now funded and can go into production. This lot will include the Liechtenstein System Austrian 3- pounder, the 6-pounder, the 7-pound howitzer, the 12- pound field cannon, and an Austrian limber model. The models have already been sculpted and are on their way to Griffin Moulds for production.

Next we have a stretch goal of $6,000 and if total pledges surpass this amount, it will "unlock" the  mighty 12-pound Prussian fortress gun, better known as the "Brummer", which Frederick used to great effect at the Battle of Leuthen in 1757. As of this writing, we are only $548 away from hitting the stretch goal.

After this, there is a stretch goal of $11,000 that will unlock the Russian artillery crews and the Observation Corps artillery crew. Needless to say, if you have the new Minden Russian cannon, then you are going to need some crew too.

I hope that we can count on your pledge support. There are seven pledge levels of $100 or less and as low as $25 to make it easy for you to get started. We also have higher pledge levels as high as $2,000, but the $100-$200 pledge range seems to be most popular.

The campaign closes on October 12, 2014 and I expect to have all of the Austrian and Russian cannon in production by December 2014, so there is a quick turn around and you won't have to wait a couple of years to get your rewards from the program.

If you have read this far, then I thank you and hope that you can support my Kickstarter project at any level. Only $548 to go to unlock those Brummers.

Ji

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Battle of Sonnenfeld, East Prussia

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Date: August 9, 1757/2014
Situation: Russian Invasion of East Prussia
Fictional Location east of Danzig: The Sonnenfeld

Background:  
During the summer of 1757/2014 the Russians invaded East Prussia. They hoped this would stretch Frederick II's resources as allies Austria and France pressed Prussia and Britain on other fronts. On August 9, 1757 the Russians and Prussians fought on the field of Sonnenfeld.

The Beginning

One of the first Prussian units to see the approaching Russian Army were Bosnian Lancers. {Peter Gilder collection owned by Keith L.}

Here is what they saw. The foreground reveals the Russian left flank stretching into the distance in two long battle lines on their Back Table.


While the Prussians deployed mostly on a Sonnenfeld reverse slope. {Collection of Der Alte Fritz: Jim P.}


Prussian Right Flank


The Bosnians repaired to the Prussian extreme right flank to discomfort a Russian battalion just arrived on the Main Table. The irregulars could not entice the Russians to waste their +5 close order first fire bonus.

The Russian battalion silently pushed the Bosnians back suffering very little from carbine fire. The Prussian battalion in the previous image moved to its right to counter the Russians.

From the Russian view, a classic firefight begins. The Bosnians retired to the rear.

Behind all this on the Prussian Back Table sat two regiments of kürassiers; 72 castings. {The nearest Kürassiers are actually my Saxon Leib Regiment pretending to be Prussians today so I could use some of my lads in the game! Plus reduce the load Jim transported.}

Moments later my Kürassier Regiment arrived from the Back Table in case of need. Forward of them the previously mentioned firefight in the upper right is ongoing and the Bosnians have sneaked around a bit enticed by hopes of falling on an enemy flank. In the upper left a new and different firefight has commenced.

The firefight on the Prussian Right Flank goes on for some time. Superior Russian fire discipline was dreadful but the Prussians held.

The Bosnians fell upon a Russian cannon section which you can't see. The crew was cut down while the Prussian kürassiers moved closer.

From the Russian view the often mentioned firefight is in the upper left, the cannon section about to be cut down is in the center, Cossacks are in the foreground, a Converged Russian Grenadier Battalion has moved forward on the right of the photo and my kürassiers are in the top of the image.

A gap opened and two kürassier squadrons charged home into the Russian Converged Grenadiers. Their fire discipline was poor and their powerful first fire bonus had already been used. The Russians lost the melee, failed a morale test and routed to their Back Table.

A die throw prevented pursuit so the kürassiers rallied back covered by their third squadron. The top of the photo shows the Bosnians and the Cossacks fighting it out. Somehow the Bosnians won, the Cossacks fled, the Bosnians pursued and cut down all the Russian irregular horsemen on their Back Table.

Late in the afternoon the kürassiers reformed. The top of the photo shows the result of the long-discussed firefight on the Prussian Right Flank. The Russians won and would eventually press the kürassiers to retire from sustained fire.

Final moments on the Prussian Right Flank saw the reserve regiment of kürassiers come forward. These would engage Russian cuirassiers in the upper right of the photo winning on the left of the "Saxon" kürassiers who held on for dear life against very heavy odds.

Unseen: On the Russian Back Table the Bosnian Lancers went battle mad apparently. They crashed into the routing and disorganized Russian Converged Grenadiers cutting them all down. One of their flags was captured by the Bosnians too. They later returned to the Main Table hoping for more mischief in the rear of the Russian Left Flank.

Prussian Left Flank

As two Russian battalions advanced onto the Main Table in the distance, two Prussian battalions ascended a rise to stop them. Their flank was....

Protected by Battalion Isenburg. {25mm Garrison castings}

Musketry soon caused casualties on both sides. {Foreground: Protzdam Grenadiers 30mm Staddens from my collection.These are the same castings (not the unit) on the cover of CHARGE or How To Play Wargames. Having these iconic castings was a long-term goal.}

Russians continue to march resolutely forward into Frederick's soldaten.

The leading Russian battalion became a tough remnant.

The Protzdammers appear to lead a charmed life in terms of casualties.

Late in the afternoon four squadrons of Prussian dragoons; 48 castings entered the fray. Only two are shown veering right toward the Russian Center. These would charge through the gap into a Russian battalion off image to the upper right throwing it back.

The other two (not shown to the left) cantered through a gap in the Russian lines to cause mischief and presented themselves in the rear of the Russians.

The last dragoons mentioned are not shown. One squadron off image in the upper right would approach the rear left flank of the distant Russian infantry. The other went toward the Russian Back Table but was shot to pieces by a battalion that turned about to face it.

The Center

This is perhaps Turn 4 or 5 in The Center. This is serious business. Russian fire discipline was unwaivering. The Prussians fell back for most of the day.

Powerful Russian forces on the right side of their Center. {Collection of Michael M.}

Prussians on the left. Russian on the right. Carnage was prodigious everywhere in The Center.






Late in the afternoon Russian Dragoons sabered a Prussian battalion in the flank causing it to rout.



Battle Honours

The next day the Bosnian Lancers were ordered to report to the Prussian Army commanding general.

Lt. General Bevern: "You scoundrels! (Bosnians laugh.) -- Pause -- For gallantry in the teeth of the Russian Army I have written this dispatch to the King on your behalf. It reads...."



Personal honors go to our pards gathered on the Sonnenfeld for prodigious companionabilities, knowing the rules very well, bringing good chow to share and bringing units too. Seated left to right: Curt B Prussian Left Flank, John B. Russian Right Flank, Keith L. Prussian Left Center and Earl K. Russian Left Center. Standing left to right: Michael M. Russian Right Center, John M. Russian Left Flank, Jim P. Prussian Right Flank and yours truly Bill P. commanding Prussian cavalry on both flanks. Gosh our game was fun! Thank you everyone. I sincerely appreciate all you did!


ANALYSIS
Missions: 
Russians: Substantially throw the foe off The Main Table. {Unsuccessful}
Prussians: Prevent further incursion of the Russians into East Prussia. {Successful}

BAR Rules:
Batailles de l' Ancien Régime 1740-1763 written by yours truly with considerable advice and play testing with Jim P. plus the invaluable writings of Christopher Duffy and Sir Reginald Savory among others. The game started at 11:00 am. ending at 3:45 p.m. with a half hour pause for lunch. I think nine turns were played using nearly 1,800 miniatures total. We could have played one more but the game reached a decision.We also thought our metal warriors had reached a state of exhaustion.

Russian Fire Discipline:
Two playing card decks were used. One on the Prussian Left Flank and the other deck for The Center and Prussian Right Flank. The latter card deck allowed the Russians to fire first for an amazing seven or so turns. On the Prussian Left Flank, fire cards were drawn more favorably for the Prussians there.

Too nerve wracking? Yes, it is understandable to think this. However, in the course of almost one hundred games, odds seem to even out in each game. In spite of amazing luck for Russians in the Center and Prussian Right Flank, the Prussians won the battle. There is often a back and forth effect which after the game seems to be most pleasing and fun in a post game analysis.

Not historical? Is it? Is simultaneous fire historical? In the chaos of war there are often wide swings in advantages and surprises. A card deck allows this. Also there are many ways to utilize card decks for random movement and fire. We most often draw cards per turn per side. But you don't have to.

Oh and if someone draws a joker; three per deck, these are used to trump the other side's card anytime when desired for movement or fire.

Communication:
If a player wanted to request help, get orders changed or order somebody to do something outside his "Tactical Orders", we used couriers. A message was written on paper, folded, placed under a courier and then the courier was simply given to the recipient in question. On the next turn the recipient would pick up the message from under the courier on the table and react. In a nine turn game, this is best. Otherwise, couriers take way too much game time to arrive at their destinations and then barely make a difference at all.

Each Army Fielded:
Everyone: Rated Veteran.
600 Line Infantry {10 Bns.}
120 Converged Grenadiers {2 Bns.} Oops! Prussia had 126!
24 Riflemen
20 Pounds of Artillery
48 Dragoons
72 Kürassiers
18 Irregular Horsemen
Russian Total: 882 + Gunners (John B., Michael M. and John M. collections)
Prussian Total: 888 + Gunners (Mostly Jim P's collection)
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CLOSING REMARKS
1) BAR may be purchased at oldregimerules.com for $40.00 including postage. It includes two sets of Quick Reference Charts; one for small tables/games and another for larger situations such as the one described above. We barely use the booklet itself. BAR is fast-playing and fun. Plus most in our group agree that games provide historical results. Chart updates are available for purchasers, new and old.

2) Michael took these photos of me:
 Contemplating launching a worrisome cavalry charge on the Prussian Right Flank and of....

Me having some "serious" FUN explaining a rule.

3) Your comments are welcome. We would all like to read your remarks below at Comments.
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