Friday, February 15, 2019

Imaginations: Seems We've Struck a Chord

I have been pleased to see the overwhelming positive response to my blog post about Imaginations.

Who needs Imaginations? It seems that we all do based on the response. As of today their have been approximately 1,500 views in aggregate among TMP, the DAF Journal Blog, the Fife and Drum Miniatures forum and the Kingdome of Hesse Seewald blog. There have been nearly 100 comments and responses to the topic across these sources which is a record response in all of my years of blogging.

The Prussian von Reusch Hussars (H5) in my Prussian army, doing double duty as Lady de Winter's Black Hussars Regulators.
On my recent vacation to Florida, I took a copy of Charles S. Grant's "The Wolfenbuttel War" which is an Imaginations campaign that closely mimics The Hundred Days Waterloo campaign. There is some great stuff in this book and all of the characters that Mr. Grant has created add a richness and much color to his campaign.

Now, who is that mysterious general who betrayed the VFS?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

So What's Wrong With Imaginations?

A contemplative moment amidst the Battle of Aspern-Essling, done in the SYW manner.

I recently read a blog that has taken a few "swipes" at the concept of "Imaginations" and the blogger saying that his way of wargaming is the best way. Several other blogs have played a similar tune from time to time, so I thought that a rebuttal of sorts was long overdue.

Well, it is OK to have an opinion (even if it's wrong), but we wargamers live in a big church and there are hundreds or more ways of approaching the hobby of playing tabletop games with the Little Men, as many of our wives and sweathearts call them. The term "Imaginations" refers to the invidual's creating of imaginary nations, hence the mash of the words into "Imaginations".

Prussian/Germanian infantry defend a town against French/Gallian attack.

I think that it is rather sad that some people feel the need to put down the efforts of others. For one thing, most wargamers are doing the best that they can with resources and talents that they have. We should encourge them for their effort. For another thing, it can come across as arrogant or elitist for a person to say that his way is the best way of approaching the hobby. And finally, it's a hobby, not a contest.

Some Approaches to the Hobby
* the majority of wargamers like to build historical armies and recreate historical battles on the tabletop in order to see if they could have done any better than Lee at Gettysburg or Napoleon at Waterloo. They might also create fictional battles (and often do) and scenarios for their tabletop wars.

Think about it, if you are playing a fictional scenario that might have happened between the Austrians and Prussians in the Seven Years War, then you, my dear hypocrite, are already engaging in the employment of your imagination to play in a wargame. This is the lane that I choose to play in most of the time.

* an even larger community of wargamers dwell in the fantasy realm of Hobbits, Dwarves, Orcs and other monsters and enemies. This is not my cup of tea, but let us give Fantasy its due because the number of Fantasy gamers and the amount of money that the segment of the gaming industry generates quite simply dwarfs that of historical miniature wargaming.

* back in 2005 or there abouts, Patrick Lewis created a Yahoo Group titled "Old School Wargaming" (or "OSW") that celebrated the "good old days" of wargaming with the likes of Donald Featherstone, Peter Young, Charles Grant and Peter Gilder, among others. Patrick talked about the influence that Charge and The Wargame had on his nascent wargaming career and how it directed him towards the 18th Century. He would fondly recall building armies with simple figures such as Suren/Willie, Staddens, RSM/Pax Britannica, Minifigs and many others.

The book that started it all - Peter Young's CHARGE!
Charles Grant told the tales of battles between Imaginations such as the
Grand Duchy of Lorraine and  the Vereinigte Freie Stadte

"Never fail to celebrate your victories - and dispute your drawn battles - by erecting  monuments and triumphal arches to your own honor. Never fail to preserve and display replicas of every captured color. Such little attention will pierce the think hide of the most complacent opponent"  -- Peter Young

Quite a large number of wargamers were drawn to this new Old School Wargaming thing and the number of visitors on the group site grew and grew. At the same time, the same people caught the bug to create their own little countries and rivalries in the manner espoused by Peter Young and Charles Grant. And before you knew it, there were little principalities, dukedoms and electoral states popping up all over the internet. A kindly gentleman named Jeff Huddleston creating a central warehouse of all these imaginations on his blog titled "Emperor versus Elector". It was a place where the denizens of imaginary nations set in the 18th Century could congregate and carry out their diplomatic affairs with other nations. Jeff added a long list of links to various blogs that updated (not sure what you call this, "streaming" or something like that) in real time. You can visit the site and see when one of the blogs had posted a new entry on its blog. This remains a valuable tool to this very day, and I admit that Emperor versus Elector is one of the first sites that I visit on nearly every day.

Let me be very clear about in my opinion that Old School Wargaming and Imaginations brought a lot of new people into 18th Century wargaming and anything that expands this population is a very, very, very good thing. Period!

Why Wargame with Imaginations?
One acquaintance of my summed it quite nicely, so let me say it in his words:

"I always have a wry smile when those who denigrate imag-nations in their next breath say that it was "CHARGE" or "THE WARGAME" that got them into 18th Century wargaming, or what classics they are! Two of the most imagi-nation centric books on wargaming that I can put my hand on.

I am only starting down my imagi-nation road, but it is one that I have tinkered with on paper for years. Why? Two reasons: First - I love the process of bringing into existence two sides, that have no historical baggage, and Second - an imagi-nation campaign, even just linked battles, is fun to devise and run - even as a solo project."

An interesting observation that checks two of my own boxes - the fun of scribbling on a piece of paper your ideas for creating an army, and it goes without saying, drawing up imaginary lists of figures that I would want to purchase for a new Project. I hark back to Hal Thinglum and his MWAN publication - he had an infectious way of talking about Projects and Lists of Figures that will always stick with me.

The second check box for me is the fact that the two (or more) sides/countries have no historical baggage to contend with. Which countries had good armies and which ones had poor armies? It doesn't matter when the combatants are of your own creation.

The imagination has a wonderful side benefit, that is, over the course of the years it allows you to create characters and watch them develop over time. In my imagination of Germania (Prussia) there is an undercover agent or naer do well named Lady de Winter who works mysteriously around the edges of our games. Lady de Winter has an obsession with collaring a ditzy English heiress named Lady Diana Pettygree. These two ladies have crossed path during many of our games and the competition has a sort of "Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote" feel to it. I haven't enough fingers and toes to count the number of times that Lady de Winter almost captured Lady Pettygree, but she never quite manages to nab her adversary. One of the fun parts of this rivalry is that Lady Pettygree has no idea that some evil woman has it in for her, which makes the whole thing even more delicious.

The infamous Black Hussars of Lady de Winter's personal army of evil doers.

Lady Diana Pettygree is said to have passed this way.

Where I Entered the Scene - My Approach

Circa 2007, I was attending the annual Seven Years War Association in South Bend, Indiana where I was hosting a wargame featuring Austrians and Prussians fighting over something, I forget what. On the table next to me was a game hosted by Bill Protz that featured large 48 and 54 figure infantry battalions fighting in three ranks, just like the actual soldiers would have done in 1757. Bill was hosting an French & Indian War game at the time. I found that as my game progressed, I kept looking at Bill's game and admiring his big battalions.

After both of our games concluded, I ambled over to Bill and told him how interested I was in his game (which won the Best of Show award that year). Bill told me that his game and rules were strongly influenced by Peter Young and his book "Charge". As the conversation continued, I got around to asking Bill whether or not he had ever considered doing this in a European setting. Well, like minds converged and soon we were both building large armies with 60-figure battalions and 12-figure cavalry squadrons. After a few months, we finally had painted enough figures to have a game on Bill's giant 6ft by 24ft game table.

Big Battalions of infantry, supported by equally large cavalry regiments, in one of our Old School battles.
Paying homage to messers Young & Grant, we created fictional countries for our armies. Bill had an affinity for the French and so named his country "Gallia", while my affinity for all things Prussian led to the creation of my country, Germania. The armies had fictional names and nations, but they were in fact French versus Prussians on the tabletop. You see, you really can have your cake and eat it too by having both historical and imaginations at the same time.

What do you do with big battalions? You play in big games!

I have always been rather enamored with Peter Gilder's Wargame Holiday Centre, having visited it twice when it was owned by Mike Ingham. As a consequence, I wanted to fight similar big battles at home and at game conventions in the USA.

Hundreds of Prussian and French cavalry cross swords in an imaginary battle scenario.

On at least four occasions, probably more, I organized large games at a local hotel for our SYW games. We played SYW versions of the battles of Rossbach, Gettysburg, Antietem, Aspern-Essling and Austerlitz with our armies. We often had 20 players in these games, ten per side. We would set up the table terrain and place the troops on the table the day before the game. This way, the gamers would arrive and could pitch into right away. Each battle had to have a Raison d'Etre so I would create a back story to the battle and give a name to each player's general. Several times I went the extra mile and scribbled out general orders and missions for each person on a paper scroll that I sealed with red wax and the letter F for the French and P for the Prussians. We had a lot of fun with that. Sometimes two players on one side had conflicting missions and this had the potential to create even more fun and mahaym in the game.

So I have nothing but warm feelings about Imaginations armies and wargames. I caught this particular SYW bug from Young and Grant. If Imaginations were good enough for them, they are good enouigh for me.


The concept of Imaginations in wargaming has attracted a lot of new people into the SYW era of historical miniature wargaming. Anything that brings in new blood to the hobby should be celebrated rather than disparaged.

As I said earlier, there are many different approaches to the hobby and the diversity of ideas on how to wargame is one of the things that make this such a great hobby.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

AWI Highlander Greens Have Arrived!

Highlanders skirmishing


The other day Richard Ansell sent me pictures of the next batch of 16 AWI figures for the Fife & Drum Miniatures figure range.  I have to say, "sweet baby onions, these are nice!" 

So we will soon be adding 11 Highlanders on foot and 1 mounted officer to the British team in the Fife & Drum AWI figure range. The greens will be sent off to Griffin Moulds next week so that the master and production moulds can be made. After that, the casting of the figures can begin.

We plan to add more flank company and grenadier figures plus a piper to the Highlander segment of our AWI range.

Highlander Figures

Center company Highlanders.

Reverse side of the Center Company Highlanders

Command Figures (L to R): NCO, Standard Bearer, Drummer and Officer.

Reverse view of the Command Figures.

Mounted Highland Regiment Officer.

Reverse side of the Highland Mounted Officer.

But wait, there's more!!!!!!!

We are adding four personality figures to the AWI range: George Washington and Nathaniel Greene on the American Team and Lord William Howe and Lord Cornwallis to the King's Side.

A reminder, Fife & Drum already has personality figures for Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox), Banastre Tarleton (Boo, Hiss!) and Lt. General von Knyphausen.

Personality Figures

Lord William Howe
Lord Cornwallis

Reverse side Lord Cornwallis

George Washington

Reverse side George Washington

Nathaniel Greene

Reverse side of Nathaniel Greene


Hell Is Indeed Freezing Over

The view from my front door, looking down the street.

The midwestern United States is currently gripped in the icy hands of something called The Polar Vortex. I'm not going to try and explain what that is, but the bottom line is that we are likely to set a record in Chicago for the coldest day in our weather history at somewhere near -27 Fahrenheit.

To give you some idea of how unpleasant things are, the HIGH temperature on Wednesday January 30, 2019 was -15 Fahrenheit. Schools were closed all across the metropolitan area today and will continue to stay closed on Thursday and possibly on into friday. The US Postal Service has suspended mail delivery for two days due to the bitter cold - good idea because working outside all day is brutal.

That does mean that I won't be able to mail any of my Fife & Drum Miniatures orders for several days

Back to the frigid cold story; downtown Chicago looked like a ghost town as there were very few vehicles on the streets and even fewer pedestrians. I did not venture out of my burrow at all today, choosing to remain in the lower Man Cave where things were toasty warm. That gave me a good excuse to pick up some paint brushes and work on painting more samples of the new Minden SYW figures. I will post pictures of my progress tomorrow (thursday, as of this writing), but 12 of the 16 new figures have been painted. 

Tomorrow looks to be more of the same, with the forecast low of -24 Fahrenheit at 7 A.M and then gradually rising throughout the day to a balmy +2 Fahrenheit by the afternoon. Friday will see the highs back into the 20s and we will see a couple inches of snow, but at this point in the Winter, who cares about 4 more inches of snow? Then things really get crazy over the weekend as the forecast calls for temperatures in the mid to upper 40s on Sunday.

We will endure though. Embrace the Winter!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

New Minden Figures - Painted Samples Pix

Austrian Horse Grenadiers and a Prussian mounted Jager courrier.


I have been working my through the painting of samples for each of the 16 new figures that have recently been added to the Minden Miniatures range, which include:

Austrian Horse Grenadiers (4 poses)
French heavy Cavalrie wearing bearskin hats
French foot grenadiers wearing bearskin hats

NB. no Bears were harmed in the sculpting of the above new figures.

So far I have painted two of the Austrian Horse Grenadier figures and an amazing rendition of a Prussian Jager zu Pferde courier deliverying an important message. This latter figure was a special commission piece by one of our Minden Miniatures customers.

(L-R) Austrian Horse Grenadier Trooper, Austrian Horse Grenadier Officer, and Prussian mounted  Jager courrier.

Side view of the Austrian Horse Grenadiers and Prussian Jager

I have also completed the painting of the four new French foot grenadiers wearing bearskin hats. Originally, only the foreign regiments of Swiss and German troops equipped their grenadiers in bearskins, but within a couple of years of the start of the SYW (1758-59) the bearskin hat began to appear on grenadiers in the ranks of the Metropolitan French line regiments as well. They are so stylish, can you blame them?

Thus, if you are painting German or Swiss troops then you will definitely need some of these new figures in your painted regiments. You can also add them to your regular ("Metropolitan") French regiments and know that this could be correct by the midpoint of the war.

French Grenadiers wearing bearskin hats.

(L-R) Officer - Picardie Regt., Drummer in Royal Livery, Swiss NCO, and Fusilier - Piemont.

Rear view of the same French Grenadier figures.

Other new additions to the Minden range include:

French Kettle Drummer
Prussian mounted Jager postman
French Marshal de Broglie
French Lt. General Chevert

I have nearly completed the French Kettle Drummer figure, but I don't want to post a picture until I have finished painting its horse.

Next on the painting list: the Austrian Horse Grenadier drummer and standard bearer, Marshal de Broglie and Chevert, and then finally the four French Cavalrie in bearskins figures.

Watch this blog for updates and new pictures as I complete the painting of each new figure.

By the way, all of these figures are now available for sale on the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Happy Birthday Der Alte Fritz!

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia

Today marks the birthday of Frederick the Great, who was born on January 24, 1712 in Potsdam, Brandenburg. He died on August 17, 1786 and was the longest reigning Hohenzollern monarch in Prussian/German Empire history.

Frederick was well educated, having written a number of books including Ante Machiavel, which was a refutation of Niccolo Machiavelli's book The Prince.

Frederick was much the quipster, being highly quotable:

* The more I see of men, the better I like my dog.
* A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.
* He who defends everything defends nothing.
* People say what they like and then I do what I like.
* God is always with the strongest battalions. 
* Rogues, would you live forever?
* Great things are only achieved when we take great risks.
* All religions must be tolerated...for...every man must get to heaven his own way.
* Do not forget your great guns, which are the most respectable arguements of the rights of kings.

Frederick's staff sign the birthday card that they plan to give him today.

The pictures shown in today's blog are all Minden Miniatures from the Personality Figures range. The fellow in the background, on horse with orange sash, is Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau. The group of officers on foot pouring over a map are from the Ferdinand of Brunswick set of figures. The stand with the artillery regimental flag are the Prussian colonel mounted on an RSM standing horse, while the officer with spontoon is holding the standard instead.

Happy Birthday Fritz, you old dog.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Pictures From the Past - 2008

Von Kleist jagers - Wargames Foundry figures that I painted in 2008.

I was leafing through my iPad photos this evening and found this picture of some Foundry von Kleist Frei Korps figures that I painted back in 2008. These are the jagers from that particular unit. I had painted nearly the entire freikorps inclluding the horse grenadiers, artillery, jagers and Kroaten infantry. The collection moved on to another inhaber probably back in 2010 or 2011.

I thought that it was a pretty good looking picture so why not post it on my blog? Going forward, I think that I will do some regular posting of the best of the figures from the past. What do you think?