Monday, 30 September 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm basing: Non-Swedish Pike+shot and Commanded Shot

German and Spanish Pike+shot
The non-Swedish Pike+shot units include Imperialist, Catholic League, Spanish and other German Foot fighting against the Swedes as well as Germans allied to the Swedes, but not regiments of German origin under Swedish command which I'm treating as Swedes!

These are going to have the same overall numbers as a Swedish Pike+shot unit, but I'm giving them a higher proportion of pikemen. The proportion isn't necessarily historically accurate but there are only so many ways to juggle 48 figures. It's all about giving an impression.

The front rank will be armoured pikemen and the shot will have a number of helmeted figures. This will make them look a little more armoured than the Swedes.

Commanded Shot
The Commanded Shot bases represent the same number of men as a Pike+shot units but I thought that 48 Musketeers would look a bit boring so I decided to use three ranks of Musketeers with four command figures at the back. It's useful with these small scale figures to provide some visual clues to distinguish unit types at a distance. Swedish Shot will include figures in Monmouth caps.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm basing: Swedish Pike+shot

A test base of Swedish Pike+shot sitting temporarily
on Blu-Tac. Command strip forms second row of
the pikes.
I've been looking forward to receiving my first orders of Baccus 6mm figures for the Tilly's Very Bad Day Thirty Years War project, not least because I wanted to see how many figures I'd actually end up putting on a 60mm x 30mm base.

But firstly let me say that the Baccus figures are very nice and remarkably well detailed for their scale. I'm no fan of cast pikes, however, and hope that enough layers of paint and varnish will provide a little protection for them against floppy spaghetti syndrome.

First up to consider, and most importantly, were the Pike+shot units. As my friend Ian pointed out, it's good to have the pikes looking really solid and I can't see that being achieved without having them at least four deep and roughly square. (There's enough room to have five ranks but that would probably an unnecessary extravagance.)

A slightly more aerial view. For the Swedes, some figures
in Monmouth caps will be mixed in.
Historically ensigns were placed somewhere behind the front ranks. With four ranks of figures, I can have the command strip with the ensigns as the second rank.

There isn't enough room to have any supernumeries standing outside the ranks. In theory these could look good, but I think you would need vastly more figures in rank to prevent the extra figures from over-balancing them.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Updated unit plans for Tilly's Very Bad Day

In order to help develop some scenarios for Tilly's Very Bad Day and to better identity the units I need to model, I've been spending a lot of time analysing the Orders of Battle given in William P Guthrie's Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635. This turned out to be very time-consuming but somebody had to do it, and I had a pressing interest in narrowing down what additional figures I needed to get.
I picked three battles from the Swedish period for which details are quite complete and readily available:

Breitenfeldt 1631
Lützen 1632
Nördlingen 1634

I've forwarded the results of this research to TVBD author Steven Thomas, and am looking forward to seeing scenarios produced in due course.

For the Catholic-Imperialists, Guthrie sometimes lists units as Cuirassiers or Arquebusiers but often just describes them as "CR" (Cavaly Regiments). For these, it was necessary to make an estimate so we took the numbers and apportioned them to Cuirassiers and Arquebusiers in a 2:1 ratio.

The other big surprise of this exercise was the discovery that most of the 'Swedish' Horse were not Swedish Horsemen, but German Cuirassiers and Arquebusiers - the same sort of cavalry to be found in the opposing armies.

The revised requirements now look like this.

Commanders    11
German Cuirassiers    14
Swedish Horsemen    3
German Arquebusiers     7
Croats    2
German Dragoons    2
German Pike-and-Shot    17
Swedish Pike-and-Shot    9
German Commanded Shot    1
Swedish Commanded Shot    2
Cannon    8
Spanish Cuirassiers    2
Spanish Arquebusiers    1
Spanish Dragoons    1
Spanish Pike-and-Shot    6

My two initial Baccus orders are now on the way so I should soon be able to make a decision about how many figures per base.

New Version

Tilly's Very Bad Day is being continually updated and has now reached version 1.3. It remains downloadable from the same page https://balagan.info/download-tillys-very-bad-day-fast-play-rules-for-the-30-years-war .

Friday, 27 September 2019

Axis and Allies: D-Day

View from the beachheads.
My friend Ian brought the Axis & Allies: D-Day boardgame round. As I’m still in recovery mode, I thought a boardgame would be less demanding. I'm not a regular boardgame player, so anything like this is quite a novelty.

I played the Allies. The Allied objective is to take and hold Caen, St Lo and Cherbourg. The Germans win if they prevent that.

The sequence of play is driven by a stack of cards. They are always in the same order and you play through the stack each turn. Interspersed ‘Fortune’ cards improve or degrade your performance of each action. Players are left with the choice of where to move and attack.

For the Allied player the main challenge of the game is how to divide resources between the three objectives. At one point I was contesting all three with some chance of winning the game, but the Germans retook St Lo and I just didn’t have enough resources left in the vicinity to counterattack.

The game is obviously quite abstract but I think it does quite a good job of capturing aspects and flavour of the Normandy campaign.

The game is fairly attritional - as was the reality. Playing through the card stack is rather repetitive but it speeds up each turn as some cards are single-use and discarded and you become more familiar with the sequence.

The game certainly works and would be good to play from time to time, but it’s not the sort of game I’d want to play regularly.

The only major design fault is the very small print on the order cards, which is extremely trying for anyone over 40. On those grounds I think this game is best left to younger players.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Further thoughts on Rommel

Rommel: End of the road...
Further to my last post, Little Wars TV also have a pretty astute review of Rommel here. They note the difficulty of adding historical flavour to a high level game, and see the Tactics in Rommel as Sam Mustafa’s way of providing it. Unfortunately, Tactics give players so much choice that they begin to slow an otherwise fast-moving game.

Sam’s decision to make the basic unit a company rather than a battalion was in my opinion extremely disappointing. The companies are little more than strength markers. They require you to have lots of stands, and they limit your ability to play large battles.

In LWTV’s D-Day game they took things up a level so the companies became battalions. You can get the scenario and the rule revisions under 'Free Stuff' once you have signed up. As you will see, the changes required were absolutely minimal and are contained in just a few sentences.

Notwithstanding the attraction of this option I remain unmotivated for a number of other reasons.

(1) IMO the success of high-level rules depends as much on the availability of historical scenarios as it does on the rules themselves. Sam Mustafa has not provided many scenarios for Rommel, relying instead on players to produce their own.

(2) Sam's publishing venture, Honour, used to have a proper forum where scenarios could be presented and rules discussed, but this was subsequently replaced by a private Facebook group, another bad decision and a complete barrier to anyone who doesn’t want any FB involvement.

So here we have a game that has failed to attract any other local champions, is only half done because it lacks scenarios, is effectively unsupported unless you want to surrender your life to Facebook, and would be better played at a totally different level from the one intended.

It looked full of promise, but those negatives just stack up in a crushingly large heap. If there was a local group of people keen to pursue it I’d give it another go, but I don’t have the energy and don’t see the point of going out on a limb when there are so many easier avenues to pursue.

What I’m looking out for now is a much higher, Operational level, game but as far as I'm concerned, it must come with a range of ready-made scenarios to attract my commitment.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

D-Day with Rommel

My interest in Rommel nose-dived after I failed to get buy-in from other gamers and it has since fallen off even the back burner. However, a reader of this blog, Emjenic, suggsted my fellow gamers should take a look at the Rommel D-Day game on Little Wars TV. Here is one of the episodes.



I was excited to see this and thought it was an exceptionally good subject for Rommel. The game also looks particularly good. While I have a lot of other things to be going on with for now, it has made me think I should give Rommel another go.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Distortion of ranges in Grand Tactical wargame rules

Swedes with muskets circa 1660
Tilly's Very Bad Day doesn't have a declared ground scale. Some may notice, however, that Horse have a Shooting Range of 2TUM and Pike+shot of 4TUM. As a TUM is half a base width and as bases represent brigades, it means that Horse can fire a distance equivalent to the frontage occupied by a Brigade and that Pike+shot units can fire a distance equivalent to the frontages of two brigades.

In correspondence TVBD author, Steven Thomas, explained: "Inside the game, there are several related mechanisms that interact. The key ones are shooting distance, normal movement, charge movement. The relationships between these are complex. We play tested a bunch of options."

The large ranges are, therefore, a compromise and a result of trial-and-error tests made during the development of the game mechanics. They can, to some extent, be justified on the grounds that a brigade base is not a solid body of men but rather 'an operational centre of gravity'. The actual units that it represents may be rattling around within its perimeter or spilling over its edges to approach enemy brigades doing the same thing. They may indeed come a lot closer to shoot at one another than appearances suggest, in which case the 2 TUM may to some extent reflect their reach as much as their range.

(Cf Horse, Foot and Guns in which musket-equipped troops have ranges varying from 200 to 400 paces, the higher range representing an invisible skirmish screen notionally thrown out in advance of the visible parent unit.)

It would be a mistake, however, to push this rationalisation too far. At the end of the day we have to recognise that hobby wargames are games, not simulations, and we are kidding ourselves if we think any of them are ‘realistic’. They reference realism in the same way a novel might, but they are not real: they are games of chance with a military flavour.

And if you do try to create rules that are trudgingly ‘realistic’ you may also find that the small increments and lack of dynamism lead to a game-play that is arthritic.

Rather than simply leave things there, however, I thought it would be interesting to look at ground scales and ranges in other rules with which I am acquainted. The results are a mixed bag and I’m not really sure what conclusions to draw. Some hit the mark or make a reasonable attempt at realistic ranges, others certainly do not.

I’ve played most of these games with a range of other players and none of them have ever questioned the ground-scale or ranges. Nobody, of course, is going to question the length of a ‘normal move’ because it’s part and parcel of the game and we don’t specifically know what it represents, but if you are looking for holes in a game because you are looking for holes in a game, ranges are an easy target!

Altar of Freedom

I haven't played these rules yet but I'm very impressed by their approach. The ground scale is 1" = 150 yds. The bases are 60mm x 30mm and represent  brigades.

There is ranged fire and close combat. However, the ranged fire represents only skirmish fire and the close combat principally represents point blank shooting. The skirmishing fire range is 2" inches so 300 yds, and may include the distance of the skirmishers from their parent unit as well as the range of their weapons.

This approach exactly captures the unique nature of battle during the American Civil War but I don’t think it’s applicable to other times and places.

It may also be noted that although  the firing aspect and the close combat aspect may be defined differently from other rules, game play still includes these two aspects. As such, AoF is not radically different from other rule sets.

Bloody Big Battles!

Ground scale: 1 inch = 150-250 yards/metres. Smoothbore musket range  is 3 inches whiĺch equals 450-750 yards/metres. (The Dreyse Needle Gun is given a range of 6” and the Chassepot 12”.) I think the ratios between these weapons are a fair representation of relative effective ranges. I think the rules work very well, but I don't think that a smoothbore musket range of up to 750 yards/metres withstands scrutiny. But it won't stop me playing the game.

Horse, Foot and Guns

Musket range is 200 paces if 'Musketeers' and 400p if certain other types, representing the reach of skirmishers. A pace is 30" so that means 166 yds and 332 yds respectively.

Impetus (first edition)

1U = 6-7 m. Unfortunately the U is sort of tied to the scale of figures used rather than the size of the bases. However, if you have 6-15mm figures on the suggested 8cm-wide bases, 1U is 1cm and your 8 cm base frontage will represent say 6.5 m x 8 = 52 m (about 57 yds).

Interestingly a heavy Infantry unit in Impetus represents 600-1200 men, roughly equal to a cohort or double cohort. Assuming that each cohort is eight lines deep, and that each legionary has a 1-yard frontage, one 480-man cohort would have a frontage of 60 yards (100 yards for the oversized first cohort). This from here. All of which goes to show that an Impetus HI unit is a fair match for a Roman cohort. Now on to ranges.

Ranges in Impetus typically go out 30U, about 195 m or 213 yards which seems long but not absurd.

The new, second, edition of Impetus uses measurement related to BW, a much more rational and increasingly universal approach for pre-Twentieth Century warfare.

Maurice 

No ground scale. Musket range is 4BW, equivalent to a unit’s frontage. If the unit is a battalion in two ranks it might have a frontage of 500/2 x 2’ which would be 500 feet or about 167 yds. However, Maurice uses bath-tubbing with no alteration to range so a unit could just as easily represent a brigade.

At battalion-level (my preference) Maurice is not a grand-tactical game. At brigade-level it is, but the numbers go out of the window.

Above all it is a game, and a very good one, not a pretence at simulation. It gets by because it splendidly captures an Eighteenth Century look and feel. And IMO that's more important than claiming some notional representation of accuracy in a small arms table.

Rules of Battle 

Forgotten now, perhaps, but apart from DBA and HOTT I think Neil Graber's Rules of Battle was the best implementation of the DBX-style design ever achieved.

The ground scale is 1" = 500 ft. Each 40 mm by 20 mm Foot base represents 1000 men (and a frontage of 267 yds).

Apart from artillery there is no ranged shooting. All combat is point blank, i.e. base to base contact.

Of the rules reviewed here, Rules of Battle is the only one not to have ranged infantry fire.

Twilight of Divine Right 

1BW = 150 m. Foot and dismounted dragoons have a range of 1/2BW = 75m. Ranged pistol fire at 1/4 BW is used and it is potentially a very small measurement. ToDR units consist of two bases so the ¼ BW measurement is actually only 1/8 of a unit’s frontage. This drives the need for bases (and a table) that are relatively large. In comparison with TVBD this set has realistic ranges but I find the small size problematical.

Irregular Wars

Irregular Wars is a much lower level game than the ones above, but I’ve included it for comparison. Bases represent companies of 125 men. It has a ground scale of 1U = 30 yds, and long range for most weapons is 6U or 180 yds. I suspect that the smaller the scale represented, the easier it is to avoid distortion without crippling a game.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Provisional 6mm basing plans for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Suggested unit basing for 15mm etc in Tilly's Very Bad Day
In Tilly's Very Bad Day each base represents a brigade. When I was going to do this project in 2mm I had intended to model different infantry formations, even though they all count the same under the rules. Now I'm doing this in 6mm, I'll just create generic basing designs and apply them to all armies.

Rules author Steven Thomas is an enthusiast for Impetus-inspired 'Big Bases' and I completely share his tastes. Steven's Thirty Years War armies are 15mm and his infantry are mounted 12 up in two ranks on 80mm x 40mm bases. That's fairly generous in comparison with, say, standard DBX basing and allows plenty of space around a unit to give a dioramic effect.

I’m doing this project using Baccus 6mm figures. The infantry come in 20 mm wide strips of 4 figures. For the pike-and-shot era with pikes flanked by muskets, there's a strong pull to put these figures on 60mm wide bases unless you want to do a lot of extra clipping. I could have gone for 80 mm x 40mm bases but I want to keep the table size reasonably small.

TVBD is measured in half-basewidths called TUMs. For 60mm wide bases a small table is 3' x 2' and a large one 5' x 3'. Those are very convenient sizes for not having to stretch too much and/or for playing at home. I can erect a 6’ x 4’ table but it’s a lot of trouble. 5’x 3’ is slightly larger than my dining-room table (which is 4’ 5.5” x 2’ 10.5”) but perhaps it will do at a pinch. If not, I’ve long been thinking of constructing a light-weight hardboard playing  surface which can be stored against a wall somewhere and dropped on the table as needed. (It might be made in two sections hinged with gaffer tape.)

Anyway, the bases I will be using are:

Commanders: 30mm rounds.
Cannons: 30mm squares.
Else: 60mm x 30mm rectangles.

Bear in mind that I'm not trying to suggest any faction-specific or period-specific formation. I just need some pike flanked by shot to suggest a pike-and-shot unit. The bases will never be 'realistic': they are purely symbolic - they are game tokens!

Arrangement of figures:

Commanders

3 mounted figures.

Horse

HHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHH


Light horse

These are supposed to be the same strength as Horse, but will look better with fewer figures irregularly placed. Exact number to be decided.

Dragoons

These also represent the same strength as Horse but may also look better with fewer figures. They will be depicted skirmishing with horse-holders and horses behind. Exact numbers to be decided.

Pike+shot

SSSS PPPP SSSS
SSSS PPPP SSSS
 

SSSS PPPP SSSS 
 
Notwithstanding what I said in the opening paragraph about generic basing designs applied to all armies, I have been wondering whether I should take the opportunity to depict the Imperialists with a higher proportion of pikes. It doesn't affect their status under the rules. It's purely aesthetic. The obvious arrangement would be:

SSS PPPPPP SSS
SSS PPPPPP SSS

SSS PPPPPP SSS

Shot

SSSS SSSS SSSS
SSSS SSSS SSSS
SSSS SSSS SSSS

Cannons

4 crew around a cannon.

I have not shown any officers, ensigns, sargeants or drummers in any of the above diagrams. I do intend to have them but haven't yet decided where to put them.

Thirty Years War: 6mm Paint Plan for Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Some of my 10mm American Civil War figures:
I am basically following the same methodology.
This is a rough and incomplete draft of my plan for painting 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Steven Thomas's Tilly's Very Bad Day. I’ve been creating paint plans privately for years, but I thought it might be interesting to share the experience with readers. It's fairly provisional in its first form but will firm up over time. I will add a little explanatory detail here which I wouldn't necessarily do just for my own benefit.

Once I actually start wielding a paintbrush I'm always very careful to list paints used so I can match them if more models need to be added at a later date. I also mark jobs done so I know where I am and give myself encouragement.

The general approach for this project will be similar to the 'Base before painting' approach that I used on my 10mm ACW armies (see photo above). Last time I found that approach hard-going but it has its advantages:
  • Once the preliminary basing, texturing and undercoating is done, the bases can be used on the table in games.
  • You begin to gain a very good impression of what the figures are going to look like as you go along. You don’t have to wait till the last part of a process (e.g. a ‘magic dip’) before the figures look right.
  • You can balance the colours used on each base.
  • The result is effective.
  • The method is potentially quick, but you need to be relaxed about the parts you can't reach and the lack of detail. You are basically just painting the outsides and the tops.
The main stages are as follows:
  • Base figures.
  • Texture bases.
  • Undercoat with a wet application of Acrylic chocolate brown.
  • 'Pop' figures with light, bright block painting that contrasts sharply with the brown background. If it doesn't stand out it's not worth adding.
  • Leave brown in the shadows between ranks and for anything else that can be left brown e.g. legs, muskets, bags etc.
  • Detail is minimised – overall impression at a distance is maximised, e.g. Faces will be painted but not hands.
The following section is a detailed painting ‘to-do’ list. Some of the detail below is not quite finished. I'm publishing it as it is. I was thinking of posting this a live document but I decided that would be too awkward.  It’s shown here as a list but my working document will be a Word table and some sections will be placed in parallel.

PRELIMINARIES
Make temporary trays for sorting figures into units. DONE
Decide on basing arrangements. TO BE FINALISED
UHU MDF and steel bases together.
Clip and sort into trays by unit. (Note Imperialist infantry have armoured front rank and some musketeers in helmets. Swedes have some musketeers in Monmouth caps.)
Clean castings if/as necessary.

BASING AND UNDERCOATING
PVA all figures (except cannon) to bases.
Tetrion bases.
PVA fine sand to bases.
Supergell cannon in place.
Undercoat with wet application of acrylic dark chocolate paint.

PAINT LARGE AREAS
Paint horses that are *not* brown.
Paint Imperialist cannon carriages…
Paint Swedish cannon carriages…
Do blackened armour on Imperialist Cuirassiers and Imperialist front-rank pikemen (Dark grey? Gunmetal?)

COAT COLOURS
Using light, bright paints, pick out coats:
Buff coats on Swedish Cavalry.
Swedish coloured infantry  uniforms:
Yellow, Blue etc
Paint Scots in hodden grey (brown) and light blue bonnets.
Remainder of Swedish infantry: pearl-grey.
Paint Swedish Commanded Shot – all pearl-grey or split into three colours/sections.
Paint remainder of Swedish cavalry in random colours...
Paint Imperial Pike+Shot, Shot, Harquebusiers, Dragoons, and Croats in random colours...

DETAIL
Dab faces flesh.
Paint Swedish hats....
Paint Imperialist hats...
Paint Swedish Monmouth caps...
Paint Imperialist pike helmets and shot in helmets as blackened.
Paint some Swedish Horsemen with blackened armour.

FINISHING DETAILS
Paint all pikes light wood.

METALLICS
Bronze cannon barrels.
Silver swords, pike points, burnished armour on remaining Swedish Horsemen.

BASE DECORATION
Static grass, ballast, tufts etc.

FINAL
Spray varnish to fix and protect.
[Ink wash and re-highlight???]
[Very light white feather-brush to lift???]
Add flags.

REFERENCES
Balagan's TYW Imperialist Painting Guide
Balagan's TYW Swedish Painting Guide
Balagan's TYW Spanish Painting Guide

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Provisional unit plans for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Thirty Years War musketeers
I'm not sure exactly what units I'm going to end up with at this stage but I can make some provisional assumptions. In order to check storage needs at the same time I used CorelDraw to create an A4 grid of 60mm x 30mm rectangles, the size of the bases I will be using.

In each grid division I wrote in a particular type of unit and I was then able to play around with the the numbers and balance.

I know that each army will have one unit of Shot and one unit of Dragoons, 4 Generals and 2 Cannons. The Imperialists will also have a unit of Croats. The rest will be made up of more-or-less equal proportions of Horse and Pike+shot units but I won't know exactly how many until I have sorted the incoming figures and, where appropriate, mixed in additional figures.

All the Swedish cavalry will be Horsemen, whilst the Imperialists will be split between Cuirassiers and Harquebusiers.

The Imperialist Pike+shot will include a front rank of armored pikemen and some musketeers with helmets. The Swedish Pike+shot will include some figures in Monmouth caps.

One Swedish unit will be Scots in hodden grey and bonnets, 7 will have coloured coats and three will be in pearl-grey.

And so, making a best guess I reckon that the armies will look something like this:

Swedes
12 Pike+shot
10 Horsemen
1 Shot
1 Dragoons
4 Generals
2 Cannon

Imperialists
12 Pike+shot
5 Cuirassiers
4 Harquebusiers
1 Croats
1 Shot
1 Dragoons
4 Generals
2 Cannon

Each of these is exactly 30 bases which is bang on target.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Roughly how big were Thirty Years War battles of the Swedish phase?

Battle of Lützen 1632
As I eventually want to use Tilly's Very Bad Day to play historical scenarios, I thought I'd better get a handle on exactly how big the major battles were during the Swedish phase of the Thirty Years War (1630-1635).

This is a ‘quick and dirty’ exercise so I’m happy to grab figures where I can. I started with Steven Thomas's timeline of the war before moving on to Richard Bonney’s The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648. I also have William Guthrie’s two-volume Battles of the Thirty Years War but that’s rather too detailed for this purpose.

Where I have only crude totals, I’ve converted as if the men were all Pike+shot. The various different labels given to factions may need improvement.

The numbers show (1) Actual men, and in parenthesis (2) Representation at the lowest rate where 1 base = 1000 Pike+shot, 500 Horse or 8 Cannon, and (3) Representation at the highest rate where 1 base = 2000 Pike+shot, 1000 Horse or 16 Cannon. The results have been rounded to whole bases.

It can be seen that the numbers of bases required is reasonable and can be tailored to suit what players have available by changing the conversion rate. The default pick-up game in comparison is set at 15-30 units per army which gives comparable numbers of bases. In other words, if you have armies of 15-30 bases you should be able to play scenarios based on these battles without any problems.

Battle of Werben 1631

Swedes vs Holy Roman Empire/Catholic League

Swedes
16,000 entrenched (16) (8)

Holy Roman Empire
23,000 (23) (12)

First Battle of Breitenfeld 1631

Swedes & Saxons vs Holy Roman Empire/Catholic League

Catholics
21,400 infantry (21) (11)
10,000 cavalry (20) (10)

Swedes
14,842 infantry (15) (7)
8,064 cavalry (16) (8)

Saxons
13,000 infantry (13) (6.5)
5,225 cavalry (10) (5)

Battle of Rain / Battle of the River Lech 1632

Swedes vs Holy Roman Empire/Catholic League

Swedes
40,000 (40) (20)

Holy Roman Empire/Catholic League
25,000 (25) (13)

Battle of Lützen 1632

Swedes vs Holy Roman Empire

Swedes
12,786 infantry (13) (6)
6,210 cavalry (12) (6)
60 cannon (8) (4)

Holy Roman Empire
9,870 infantry (10) (5)
6,900 cavalry (14) (7)
38 cannon (5) (2)
Reinforcements: 2,300 cavalry (5) (2)

Battle of Nördlingen 1634

Holy Roman Empire/Catholic League/Spain vs Swedes/ Heilbronn League

Catholics
23,000 infantry (23) (12)
13,000 cavalry (26) (13)
32 cannon  (4) (2)

Spanish
13,500 infantry (14) (7)
4,500? Cavalry (9) (5)
Reinforcements: 3,000 Catholic cavalry (6) (3)

Protestants
16,300 infantry (16) (8)
9,300 cavalry (19) (9.5)
62 cannon (8) (4)

Battle of Wittstock 1636

Swedes vs Holy Roman Empire & Saxons

Swedes
16,000 (16) (8)

Holy Roman Empire and Saxons
22,000 (22) (11)

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Additional 6mm figures for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Scottish musketeers.
After some more thought I decided get some additional figures types:

WEC05 - Musketeers, Shoulder, Monmouth cap
I hadn't realised these were also appropriate for TYW Swedes, but Monmouth caps are mentioned in Steven's Thomas's TYW Swedish painting guide.

WEC17 - Horse - Hat
Just an additional pack so I have more Swedes in hats than pots. They'll all be mixed together

WEC 19 (mounted) Dragoons
For Imperialist harquebusiers. I'm not otherwise using this pack. They've got carbines and look like a reasonably good match for later harquebusiers.

WEC31 - Lowland Pikeman, advance
WEC33 - Lowland Musketeers, shoulder
For Scots in Swedish service. This is a very expensive way of filling one base,  but I couldn't resist them and I'll just sell on the surplus (or start a Scots ECW army?.

GNP 8 - Unarmoured cavalry
From the GNW Polish range for Croat and other irregular light horse.

POW02 - Large Church and churchyard
POW03 - Large House
These look fairly Germanic and are for a village feature.

These will probably not be my final purchases as I still need to confirm how many figures I'm actually going to put on the bases and how many bases I might want to field in order to create the largest historical scenarios.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Bases for 6mm figures for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Battle of Noerdlingen 1634
My normal practice for basing multiple figure stands is a combination of 2mm MDF and sheet steel. This gives the figures stability in transit when I put them in boxes lined with magnetic sheeting and on the table because of the additional weight. The depth gives you something to pick them up by.

However, I was not keen to use 3mm+ deep bases for figures that were themselves only 6mm high. Because of my firm requirement for steel over MDF, my friend Ian suggested using steel alone but that seemed fraught with difficulties as it is actually very awkward to prize a thin steel sheet from the magnetic plastic without having long nails or damaging the figures.

Printed template for mass-producing storage trays.
Ian suggested that if I inserted a sheet of paper between the surface of the storage boxes and the bottom of the bases, the bases would remain adequately in place but I could use the paper to 'peel and lift' them away when it was time to deploy them.

This worked a treat - thank you, Ian - and I've even started to create little paper trays so that the bases can be lifted out even more easily. Trays made from 80 gsm paper are a little weak and probably won 't last. 160 gsm card interferes with the magnetism. Somewhere in between I expect 100 gsm or 120 gsm paper to provide an optimum trade-off.

This arrangement would save me 2mm of unnecessary, artificial height. But something still tells me that it is a risky idea. Bases 3mm+ deep will give me (and others) something to grab - other than the figures themselves - when moving them around the table. Perhaps I will add the MDF after all!

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Choosing 6mm figures for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Baccus 6mm Cuirassiers
My immediate wargaming priority has been to get to grips with Steven Thomas' Thirty Years War rules, Tilly's Very Bad Day.

I gave them an intense read which also doubled as a proof-read and raised my queries with Steven. He took valid points on board while putting me right on others, and the result is now Version 1.2 (09 September 2019) which you can download here.

It is not a substantive change, but I think it will be of significant assistance to me and others not immediately in Steven's playing circle. It's inevitable when developing new rules that some part will be carried in the practice of play rather than explicitly expressed in text. Which is why rules should always be subjected to fresh eyes and play testing in isolation from the original developers.

I have previously contributed to proof-reading the Peter Pig Samurai and ACW rules, and, with my friend Ian, contributed to extensive play-testing etc of Irregular Wars. It's good to be involved in this sort of work once again.

Parallel to studying the rules, I am also giving myself a crash course in Thirty Years War military history, including wargaming priorities like troop type and function, tactical doctrine, and uniforms etc. This is on-going.

Next step was to choose a specific historical peg (thirty years is a long time in war) and order some figures. Although I had originally been looking at the Eighty Years' War and the early part of the Thirty Years War, I subsequently decided to do what most other people do and that is focus on the Swedish period.

What and how many figures would I need? In detail that depends on how many figures I actually want to put on a base. That is currently uncertain but I can still get a fairly good handle on overall requirements.

For pick-up games the rules tell you to choose an army size of 15 to 30 units. A couple of 25-unit sample armies,  one cavalry-heavy and the other infantry-heavy, are given in the rules.

For individual historical scenarios - and that for me is the main point of Grand Tactical games - the requirements will need to be researched.

There is some leeway. Foot units, for example represent 1000-2000 men so you can convert historical numbers at a rate of 1000 per base or 2000 per base or any number in between.  In other words you can go small for the big ones while maximizing the number of bases in small ones. This will even out army requirements.

Realising that I would probably need to end up with about 7 packets of Baccus infantry and cavalry to produce an army, the easiest next step was simply to choose about 14 packs as my starting point.

In the end I ran with 4 packs of pike, 4 packs of musketeers, 4 packs of cavalry, one pack of artillery and two packs of generals, together with 4 sheets of Swedish and Imperialist flags. Included in these numbers were some armoured pikemen for the Imperialist front ranks and some helmeted musketeers to mix into the Imperialist shot. The Swedes will be less well armoured.

For the cavalry I was less sure and needed some quick education. The Imperialists had Cuirassiers and  Harquebusiers whilst the Swedes had Horsemen resembling the popular image of both Roundheads and Cavaliers.

Unfortunately, Baccus do not yet do any Harquebusiers, so I settled on two packs of Cuirassiers for the Imperialists and a pack each of hatted and pot-helmeted cavalry for the Swedes.

Once I've played around with the basing options I can always get more figures.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

New projects: Black Seas and 6mm Thirty Years War

It's at times like these that I need to think of new wargames armies!

I have lots of ongoing projects to fill in and complete, but most of these are actually now at a stage where I could soon put them on the table, somewhat anaemic (undercoated) though they might appear. There are various 28mm Fantasy armies for Dragon Rampant about which I've so far revealed very little but have much to illustrate, 28mm Buccaneer and Spanish armies for The Pikeman's Lament and 28mm Militia and Insurgent forces (1798) for Rebels and Patriots. I would like to get some 28mm Woodland Indians, Southern Militia and Riflemen in hunting-shirts for AWI (Rebels and Patriots) and some 28mm Sudanese and Bashi-Bazouks for my Colonial Egyptians (The Men Who Would Be Kings) but these would be all relatively small acquisitions.

Since emerging from the operating theatre, I've come up with two new projects to provide retail therapy. The first is the 1/700 Napoleonic naval game, Black Seas from Warlord Games. For those who don't know, this is one of those out-of-the-box games of which I thoroughly approve. I saw it demonstrated at Salute and it looked user-friendly.

It is designed by Gabrio Talentino, author of Cruel Seas and a regular nice guy. Cruel Seas didn't appeal to me and apparently had lots of errors, but I'm confident that mistakes have been learnt. Anyway, I pressed the button to pre-order a Master and Commander starter set, and look forward in particular to the release of the Americans. The ships need a little assembly but are essentially ready-made and the customisation options have been very cleverly thought out.

The other project that has been consuming my attention is Steven Thomas' Tilly's Very Bad Day Thirty Years War rules. Over the years, lots of years, I've have been all over the place with different ideas for scales and basing arrangements, but I woke up this morning with thoughts of 6mm figures on 60mm x 30mm bases and just settling on one generic infantry type! It's the smallest one can go and still see character, and it will be very straightforward to complete.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Walking wounded

Having just survived a condition that would have been fatal (true, but let's not fuss) I'm enjoying an unplanned opportunity to sort out the important things in life. Beyond my love for my wife and family, our family dog, friends, and a lifelong thirst for musical expression, I intend to carve out a firmer place for painting and gaming, which brings me so much pleasure and relaxation.

I'm rarely personal on this blog (beyond exposing my part in our shared obsession with toy soldiers) and I'm certainly not a Facebook type that thinks every trivial aspect of my life will be of interest to a diverse audience.

So this is just something of an interim bulletin and provides a usable excuse for not having posted anything in the past fortnight. In the absence of a Facebook account, I felt I had to write something somewhere.

It remains for me to express my deep-felt gratitude for the kind and brilliant staff of the hospital in whose care I currently lie.