Friday, May 20, 2022

Going Down To The Crossroads


General Greene calls for a staff meeting in front of the Savage Swann Tavern.


I’m feeling quite a bit better today so I went down into the Man Cave and set up a couple of photo shoots to pass the time away. Today’s fox is the meeting of some AWI Continental infantry meeting at a village crossroads as they march off to battle. 

Major General Nathaniel Greene has a rendezvous with a couple of his brigade commanders in front of The Savage Swann Tavern. The proprietor of the Inn, a Mr. Donovan, is offering cold refreshments to the gentlemen.

A brigade of Continentals can be seen marching off into the horizon. The soldiers are all from the Fife and Drum Miniatures range of figures. The civilians are from a wide variety of companies including Minden, Perry, Front Rank, Old Glory and a few unknown figures that I have picked up over the years.

I hope that you enjoy the pictures.

The buildings in these snapshots were made by The Master Himself, Herb Gundt. The table mat is from Cigar Box Battle Mats. The haystacks (aren’t they really nice and realistic) were made by a fellow who I only know as “Rick” who shows up at the Seven Years War Convention every year with his scratch built terrain pieces.

I rather like the Old Fool walking in front of the on coming battalion of infantry.
He seems blissfully unaware of his surroundings. Perhaps he has had one too many tankards of ale at the Savage Swann Tavern.

Mr. Rick’s haystacks blend in nicely with the printed wheat fields of the Cigar Box mat.

The 6th Maryland Regiment marches out of the town

I dropped my photo lamps onto the floor prior to the photo session so I had to rely on the overhead lighting in the Man Cave, augmented by the photo editing that is available in iPhotos. The lamps are broken from the fall so I will have to purchase a new set.

Whenever I do a shoot and examine my pictures, I notice little things that weren’t hidden from the camera lens, be it a stray group of figures that I’ve set aside to get them out of the shot, or troops from a different era that are sitting on another area of the table. When I’m composing a shot, rather than just taking a shot of a game in progress, I “wall off” the intended area of the photo with a forest of trees

There will probably be a few more photo sessions over the next week or so and I will see if I can weed out the mistakes and improve the lighting a bit.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

COVID Finally Got Me


The world seems upside down right now. Things can only get better.

It’s sort of like Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. You take all of the precautions to avoid getting the plague, but it still gets you in the end. I think that the culprit was a trip to the emergency room to get my spouse treated for some tick bites. Lot’s of Lyme’s Disease cases going on in my neck of the woods.  At any rate, there was a family there with a little boy and the fellow had a horrible hacking cough. We were sitting across from them and we didn’t move away from them at first; you know, I didn’t want to be That Prejudicial Guy. Stupid me, as Harry Flashman would say. In this age of Covid the prime directive is to look out for oneself first.  We moved across the room after awhile, but it was probably too late for me.

We returned home from the ER at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning and I probably slept in until about noon. Later that afternoon I started to feel a minor pressing sensation near my breast bone. That evening I could feel a sore throat coming on. So I went to my local CVS Pharmacy and bought some Covid home test kits and tested negative Saturday evening.

Sunday morning I felt better and the sore throat did not seem to be getting any worse, if not actually feeling better.

 Early Monday morning I felt like I had a bad cold - lot’s of wet coughing, nasal congestion and sore throat. I took another home test and again tested negative, but in the back of my mind I was thinking that regardless of what the tests were saying, I likely had Covid. Really getting tired and run down by the end of Monday. I made an appointment with my spouse’s doctor to get a drive through Covid test, reasoning that this would be a more accurate test.

The results were positive for me and negative for my spouse so we went into full quarantine mode. I called my own doctor and (bless her) she got me on a regimen of Proxlovid medicine. I slept for a good portion of Tuesday. At night I had to sleep propped up at a 60-degree angle so that “stuff” would not get into the lungs and send me off into a fit of hacking coughing.

Wednesday, I was feeling a bit better so the Paxlovid must be working. The meds do have some side effects, all of which I will not detail here, but one of them was that there was a metallic or bitter taste in my mouth for awhile after taking the pills. I thought that perhaps this was the “loss of sense of taste” Covid symptom, but it gradually went away. Spent most of Wednesday laying on the couch listening to WSCR sports talk and after getting bored with that, I watched some television and got hooked on some reality TV show “Master Distillers” I think that it was called. It was knock off of the Forged In Fire show on the History Channel. It starts with 6 people in a moonshine making contest and the contestants get whittled down over the course of several shows. It was silly, yet fascinating. It seemed that all of the contestants had to wear bib overalls, wear funny little pork pie hats, or have names like “Tater”. I did learn a bit about making moonshine and something called Cherry Bounce.

Watched a little Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals baseball, but the Sox still couldn’t get their offense rolling which means that it was a bad game to watch. Switched over to the end of Chicago Fire in time to see that Stella and Severeid were finally going to tie the knot. Chicago PD came on next. This is probably my favorite of the “Chicago” trio of programs that NBC runs on Wednesday nights.

When I went to sleep that night, I discovered that I had spent too much time on my back during the day to the point that my back hurt and so I tried different sleep positions. The hacking cough really took off during the night and wouldn’t stop unless I was upright, but I couldn’t stay upright because it hurt my back, and so on and so forth…  Finally fell asleep sometime after 4:15 AM this morning. We had a power outage at 6:45AM so my white noise machine, AKA an electric fan, shut off and this woke me up, much to my regret. Sent an OUTAGE text to the power company and an hour later we had power again. I slept until 10AM this morning.

 Feeling better this morning. One thing about my version of Covid is that one can’t get too cocky about thinking that you are feeling better, because as soon as you do, that painful hacking cough returns. I’m typing this blog post from bed. I have one of those hydraulic lift devices that raises and lowers the angle of the mattress at the touch of a switch. This is really the first time that I have even used this feature on the bed mattress since its purchase two years ago.

One thing that is helping me pass the time is picking up some of my Sharpe’s book and rereading them. I’m currently working on Sharpe’s Sword, which takes place around the time of the Battle of Salamanca in 1812. I think that I will read Sharpe’s Company next so that I can get reacquainted with Obadiah Hakeswell, whose probably the best villain in the Sharpe series of books.

I thought that I might be able to “go to town” on painting figures, but I just can’t stir up the gumption to give it a try. I’m always too tired to paint.

The Cons of Covid are quite obvious so I try to think about the Pros of the whole thing, you know, those unexpected nice things that can happen during the process; 1) I haven’t had much of an appetite so I’ve lost four pounds which gets me closer to my desired weight; 2) getting reacquainted with books; and 3) best of all having a new appreciation for my wife. She has been the best.

I just want to get rid of that hacking cough.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Bayreuth Dragoons in White Coats


Prussian Bayreuth Dragoons wearing white coats.
Minden Miniatures Prussian Dragoons.

For a long time I have been toying with the idea of painting a wargame cavalry regiment of the Prussian Bayreuth Dragoons (IR5) dressed in white coats. Yes, Prussian dragoons wore white coats at the start of the 1st Silesian War. I already have the Bayreuth Dragoons in my Prussian army, but now that I have embarked on a War of the Austrian Succession ("WAS") I thought that now is the time to paint them wearing white coats rather than light blue coats.

I painted a couple of test figures to see how they will look. I also used some of the galloping/cantering horses from the Fife and Drum AWI figure range so as to give the unit a more active pose.

Here are some pictures of the test figures:

I like the look of these figures with white coats and so I think that I will paint a 36-figure regiment of them with Prussian Dragoons from the Minden Miniatures (what else?) figure range.

I cleaned up and assembled 36 figures this afternoon and the first 12 have been primed, so that I can start painting tomorrow. My cavalry figures all get a few swipes of a rat-tail file between the legs and then I rough up the surface on the horse where horse and casting will be glued together. Before applying glue, I roll out some Green Stuff epoxy putty and place a little piece on the underside of the rider casting. Then glue is applied between the legs of the cavalry figure and the two halves are smooshed together. The putty fills in any gaps between the figures while also making for a better bond.

I should have the first 12 figures painted and based later this week and I will post pictures on this blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Picture of the Week - 18th Century Diorama

I forget where I found these pictures. They were probably sourced on Pinterest. These are 20mm dioramas shown at a show in Germany, where there is an active group of hobbyists who focus on dioramas.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

My Minden Mojo Is Back!


My newly painted Prussian regiment IR18 Prinz von Preussen

Getting Back to the 18th Century

I am taking a break from painting 54mm Punic Wars figures and getting back to my touchstone, which is painting Minden Seven Years War figures. It's been awhile since I have painted any of the 1/56 scale Minden figures and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to adjust to painting smaller miniatures. It turns out that it did not take me much time at all. Once I applied my brushes to the smaller figures, the joy of painting my Minden Prussians took over and I am now cranking them off of the assembly line at a rapid clip.

Today's fox is a return to my War of Austrian Succession ("WAS") "three ranks" project. I paint a battalion of 32 figures and the bulk of the rank and file are glued to their bases in two ranks. However, I then place the "file closers" ( NCOs, officers and drummers) behind the two ranks of soldiers and this creates the illusion of a three rank formation.

IR18 Prinz von Preussen regiment of two battalions deploys in front of a village.

The two pictures below show how the file closers form a third rank of war game figures.

Side view shows the placement of the third rank of command figures.

Note the placement of the 3-pound battalion gun on the flank of the battalion.

My New 3-Rank basing system

This newly painted Prussian regiment is IR18 Prinz von Preussen modeled in a firing line formation. My regiments consist of two battalions, each of 32 figures plus a 3-pound battalion gun with three crewmen for each battalion.

I am using MDF bases measuring 60mm frontage by 80mm depth. The size of the base provides sufficient depth to deploy figures firing their muskets without the muskets/bayonets hanging over the edge of the base. This provides a little extra protection for the firing figures from any handling damage. Plus, the extra depth of the base allows me to place the file closers in a third rank of figures.

I  used Hessian musketeers from the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI figure range because they look "close enough" to SYW Prussians and I do not have Prussian firing poses in the Minden range. I used product codes  HP-002 Hessian Musketeer Command - Firing Line and HP-004 Hessian Musketeer Firing Line. The firing line packs come with 8 figures, four each of leveled muskets firing and a second rank with their muskets in a "get ready for firing" pose.

I do have the ability to augment the Hessian figures with some individual Prussian figures from the Minden figure range, such as Zimmerman with axe, NCO with pole arm or with musket, standard bearers, and musicians. Since the Minden and Fife & Drum figure ranges are compatible in size, I can employ command figures from both figure ranges.

Battalion Gun Solution

I think that I have finally developed a solution to the problem of how to use battalion guns in war games. Rather than having the gun and artillery crew acting as a separate unit, they are incorporated into the battalion as the fifth stand and are kind of there "just for looks." They do serve a purpose though: in my rules a unit fires with a D10 for every four figures in the battalion. For example, if the battalion strength has fallen from 32 figures down to 24 figures, the number of dice has also fallen from 8 dice at full strength to 6 dice. Thus the more casualty attrition during the game, the fewer the dice that the battalion can use when it fires its muskets. 

Where the battalion gun comes in is that the cannon stand gets one D10 added to the total number of dice that are being used to fire. For example, a battalion has 28 figures, so it gets seven D10 plus one extra D10 for having a battalion gun attached to the unit. Once a complete stand of infantry figures has been put out of action, the battalion gun stand is removed so that the battalion no longer gets the benefit of the extra D10 in combat. In other words, the battalion gun firing has nothing to do with the regular artillery firing table.

Musket range is 8-inches in my rules and 3-pound light artillery has a range of 20-inches. I will allow the battalion to fire the 3-pounder using the artillery firing table provided that the battalion has not moved on that turn. So the gun is always moving with the battalion and does not stop to fire unless the battalion has not moved during the turn.

I never knew what to do with the battalion guns in the past, but I think that this solution works nicely while also enhancing the visual look of the battalion.

Next Up In the Painting Queue

I have a 42-figure battalion of the Prussian Garde IR15-III that have been sitting on my painting table, partially painted, for at least a year. I plan on finishing this unit next.

This will then give me six battalions of infantry for my Three Rank Army on the Prussian side. The Austrians currently have seven battalions of infantry in the Three Rank Army system.

Both armies will have 10 to 12 battalions of infantry at the completion of the project. I do not have to change the unit size or basing of light infantry battalions such as Croats and Jagers. The cavalry basing does not need any changing either, other than to increase the unit size from 24 riders to 32 riders (but these additions will be painted slowly over time).

This afternoon I primed 32 Hessian Grenadiers in firing line poses to join my Prussian army as the Bornstadt Grenadier Battalion (5/20). These will get painted shortly, perhaps slipping in ahead of the Prussian Guards.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

I Found Another Ian Weekley Model


German Farmhouse by Ian Weekley.

I found one more Ian Weekley model in my collection, stashed away on a top shelf. It is a North German farmhouse and out buildings. It is loosely inspired by La Haye Sainte at Waterloo.

The farmhouse makes a nice addition to the game table layout, with it parked in one of the corners of the table. I like to have my built up areas in the corners of the table so that they don't interfere with the space needed for troop movement. Of course, some scenarios will need to have built up areas and other buildings in a more central part of the table, but I prefer the open spaces provided by building models in the corners.

The farmhouse shown in the upper left corner of this picture.


I like the way that the farmhouse sort of "nestles" into the background of the scene.

Here are some more views, closer, of the farmhouse. I have populated it with some of the civilians in my collection.

This is the last of my Ian Weekley models. All of them were commissioned in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I like how they look when all of them are placed on the table top.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Ian Weekley SYW Village


My collection of Ian Weekley buildings on display

Back in the mid 1980s Ian Weekley was the building modeler par excellence and his models usually graced the pages of Miniature Wargames. Everyone wanted to have an Ian Weekley model, well I did, for sure. So one day I decided to write a letter to Ian at the Old Anchor of Hope and asked him if he was interested in taking on a commission to make the Leuthen Church and some period houses.

We didn't have this Internet Thingy in 1986 so one had to write a letter and usually include some IIRCs (international reply coupons - remember them?) and then hope for a response. To my utter surprise I got a return letter from Ian in which he said that he would be delighted to work on my commission. Over the years I had Ian make some other models for me including a windmill, a city gate and a North German farmhouse.

In retrospect, Ian Weekley's models were rather "quaint" and rudimentary by today's standards. For example, the timbers of a half-timber building were made using indelible markers and window shutters were mere pieces of cardboard that lacked any paint or detail. But at the end of the day, Ian's models were quite lovely and I think that they rather stand up well in today's era.

I decided that it was time to put the Hannibal project on the back burner (it is nearly finished anyway) and get back to painting Minden Miniatures Seven Years War figures. Specifically, I want to get back to the new Austrian and Prussian armies that are based in three ranks on a 60mm by 80mm base. The stands have two rows of soldiers and then there is a thin third rank of officers, NCOs and other file closers. I currently have seven Austrian battalions and three Prussian battalions that I have painted and based in this manner.

I wanted to put the existing units in this project out on my game table and I thought that it would be a great idea to go Old School and bring all of my Ian Weekley buildings out of storage. One nice touch: Ian signed all of his models and wrote down the year that it was made, which tells me how old the model is and when it was made.

The picture below shows my game table. I have enough Ian Weekley buildings to build two villages. I put the villages in the corners of the table so that they do not impede the traffic flow of model soldiers. I also like to turn the buildings on an angle rather than using a rectangle layout. Shifting the rectangle into a diamond shape creates a more interesting focal point for the terrain layout.

A view of my game table with Ian Weekley models in two of the corners and the windmill on the hill.

The church model was made by me. Really! I was getting ready to run my first huge Leuthen Invitational Wargame and it appeared that Ian wouldn't have the Leuthen Church model done in time for my game. A Leuthen game simply must have a church so I made my own. Looking at it now, I think that it is a pretty good job for an amateur and to this day I have no idea of how I managed to pull it off. The walls are made of think plywood and somehow the steep angles of the end walls were nearly perfect. All this using small Exacto tools rather than professional tools and saws.

My church tower has an interesting construction: I made a tall rectangular tube from plywood and was able to slide it into a cut out slot that I made in the front of the church. The top of the steeple added a smaller mini rectangle tower, topped with a ping pong ball for the onion dome. The ping pong ball used to have a tooth pick spire sticking out of it, but this has been long gone, having broken off at some point along the line. I added some epoxy putty (green stuff) to shape the onion and attach it to the tower.

The roof was made from small pieces of card tile that I cut out from a cereal box. I had to glue each individual roof tile in row after row. Some pieces of card were glued to the tower corners to look like corner stones. The church windows were shaped with tooth picks and then the windows were simply painted black.

The church model was made by me!

My friend Phil Olley says that every wargame table should have a windmill and I would have to agree with that. Ian made a wind mill model for me that looks very rustic by today's standards, but I love the model none the less. There is even a little platform on which I can place an officer figure to spot the enemy and to direct artillery fire.

As Phil Olley always says, "every wargaming table needs a windmill."

A close up view of some Prussian generals consulting their maps and trying to find there way.

Ian also made a city gate and tower for me. There is a short section of wall and a half timber house at one end. The interior side of the tower is a clock tower with the clock made from an old watch face. I'd like to make some more walls to use with this model so that I could have a walled town in the corner of my game table Someday.

The city gate tower model

Note the use of an old watch face to make the clock in the clock tower..
The gates are hinged so that they can be opened or closed.

One of the town buildings, serving as the local watering hole in this town.

I have enough Ian Weekly models to make up two villages on the table. The second village is shown in the picture below. Ian made most of the buildings except for the on barely visible in the lower left corner. The town fountain was made by Herb Gundt . The cobblestone streets are a mat made by Lemak, a company that makes Christmas village models.

The other town on the game table.

Another view of the second town. The church spire of the first town can be seen in the distance .

I am currently painting IR18 Prinz von Preussen for my three ranks basing system. My regiments in both armies have two battalions of 32 figures each. I hope to have the first battalion completed by this coming weekend

Going forward, you can expect to see a lot more 18th Century content on my blog.