Saturday, December 9, 2023

Mindens at Mollwitz


Converged Austrian grenadier battalion marches under the 
watchful eye of their general.

I thought that I would post a few pictures of my Seven Years War collection of 1/56 scale Minden Miniatures Austrians and Prussians. The pictures were taken at my Mollwitz game at the 2023 SYW Assn. Convention.

I have been working on painting some samples of the new Minden SYW Russian cuirassiers that were recently added to the range. However, I am finding it difficult to adjust to painting 28mm figures after painting nothing but 54mm figures over the past 18 months. I will just have to power through the mental difficulties and break through the wall. My painting skill will hopefully return soon.

Austrian army advances on to the battlefield.

The Prussians are on the move too.

A grand cavalry melee is the epitome of fighting in the Seven Years War.


Thursday, December 7, 2023

Christmas Game Pix, Must see!


A view of my Austrian brigade in the foreground, looking across the field
at the Anglo-Franco army and players. Note the use of three tables.

On Saturday December 2, 2023 our group of 11 players convened to play our annual Christmas war game. We usually hold the game on the first weekend of December so that holiday plans don't get in the way of having the game. We had players traveling from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois for the game. Our host, Kieth L., provided the venue and plenty of drinks, snacks and a mid-day lunch. Kieth's wonderful wife, Donna, made two different types of chili and backed lots of tasty treats such as corn bread, brownies, cookies and lemon bars. Thank you Kieth and Donna for your hospitality.

The Band of Brothers gather for a post-game picture. That's me in the red hoodie.

The Game Parameters 

The rules; We used Bill Protz's Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime (or BAR for short) which are designed for easy and quick games with lots and lots of figures. We have been playing games with these rules since about 2010 so most of the players were well-familiar with the rules.

The figures: We played with big battalions and cavalry regiments of 60 figures, or a ratio of 1:10 man to figures. The figures were largely 30mm Stadden, Suren, Elite, Potsdam and some large 28mm figures such as Front Rank. There were probably even a few Minifigs sneaking into the ranks.

Table size: We played on a game table sized  at three tables measuring 6ft wide by 32ft long with aisles in between the table. The aisles don't exist in terms of table top space, but rather, when a unit approaches the edge of one table, it hops over the aisle and continues its normal movement on the next table. This provides us with a game table that is actually 18ft wide by 32ft long. And trust me, we needed every inch/foot of these tables for the game.

Game Management: We divided the table into three zones (right, center and left) and each sector had its own deck of cards for initiative card draws. This way, one section of the table didn't have to wait for other sections of the table to finish their turn before moving on to the next turn. This speeded up the game.

The game opponents: The game was an unhistorical alliance of the French and British versus the central European powers of Austria and Prussia. The main victory condition was the control of a large town placed in the middle of the battlefield. Sadly, for my team, the French captured the town on Turn 3 and never yielded ground for the rest of the game. As a result, the game ended in a French victory.

The right flank of the Austro-Prussian battle line. The Prussians placed a 
ridiculous number of cannon on top of a ridge, forcing the French to avoid 
the area and attack the woods. Unbeknownst to the French, most of the 
Prussian guns only had one or two rounds of ammunition.

A huge Prussian cavalry brigade in reserve behind the daunting ridge line
of Prussian artillery.

The town in the center of the table was the main objective of both armies.

The central table zone, looking at the Austrian forces.

The British army facing the Austro-Prussian left flank.

The Fritz Bits

Yours truly was assigned a brigade of 4 Austrian musketeer regiments, 1 Croat light infantry regiment, 2 Austrian cuirassier regiments, and a couple of 12-pound cannon. I was posted on the far left flank of the Austro-Prussian army (in my own playing zone), with two Austrian brigades to my right in the center zone of the table. The Prussian army held down the right flank and deployed behind a sizable ridge with their infantry and powerful cavalry contingent.

My opponent, directly across from me, was the powerful British army with 7 regiments of infantry (including one guard and one grenadier regiment) and two smaller 36-figure cavalry regiments of Horse. Counting noses, it was readily apparent that the British outnumbered my infantry 7 to 5 while I had the slight edge in cavalry (96 Austrian cavalry versus 72 British cavalry). Knowing that infantry are more significant and powerful than cavalry in our BAR rules (Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime), I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

There were two enclosures placed on the middle of the table, between my brigade and that of my British opponent. The lefthand enclosure was close enough to the table edge to restrict movement; then there was some open ground in the center, and finally, there was another enclosure and farmhouse on the my front right. I reasoned that if I could advance to the edge of the two enclosures I stood a good chance of forcing the British army to attack through the bottleneck of the open middle ground. Thus, the British would not be able to take advantage of their superior numbers of infantry. I placed three of my musketeer battalions and the Croat light infantry on my front line, and deployed my fourth musketeer line behind the front to provide a support reserve force. My cuirassiers were placed behind the main battle line where they might be able to take advantage of any worn down British infantry regiments to their front.

Let the Game Begin

Given that we were playing on a 32ft long table, it was nearly impossible to have any idea of what was going on at the far end of the table. As a matter of fact, I wasn't able to pay much attention to the goings on in the middle zone of the table. I had my hands full in my zone. Who needs a fog of war rule in this situation?

My Austrian battle line deploys and advances towards the enclosure on my right.
Note my Austrian cuirassiers held in reserve.

My Croats lead the advance of my brigade (in columns) to the enclosure.

A view of the left flank of my brigade. The British have gained control of the
lefthand enclosure and advance in line in the center.

My Austrian musketeers face off against the Highland Black Watch regiment.
Note the small gap along the table edge which restricted the movement of
the British cavalry.

My cavalry brigade outnumbers the British cavalry by a large amount, so
it is time for my Austrians to charge.
Cavalry melee in my sector. Austrian cuirassiers on the right and British Horse regiment
 (The Blues) on the left. The game was declared over at this 
time, but my opponent and I played out the cavalry melee. The Austrian cuirassiers prevailed.

The End Result in my Sector

I was able to hold off the advance of the British infantry in my sector. I had one of my musketeer battalions rout due to their accumulated losses. One of my other regiments was pretty well shot up, but hadn't reached the magic 50% casualties number  and thus didn't have to check morale (yet). I recall that at least two British regiments routed and a couple more were severely shot up. Somehow the stalwart Highlanders were able to pass their morale despite losing nearly 2/3rds of their numbers.

Some pictures of the action elsewhere

As I said earlier, I wasn't able to follow the action in the center and right game zones, but from time to time I took a stroll over there and snapped a couple of pictures. Of note, Randy F. sent his French light cavalry into the important town on the first or second turn and held the town for the rest of the game, thus meeting the victory condition for the French army. Well done Randy; that was a great tactic; very clever use of light cavalry.

Bill Protz lords over the French army of his left flank. The cavalry reserve of both sides
was not engaged in the battle due to the preponderance of infantry on the field.

Randy F. is very happy about capturing the town early in the game.

Game action on the center game table.

The overall result: a French victory

Austrian-Prussian right flank: the French bypassed the 13-gun battery of Prussian artillery and pushed their way through the woods at the end of the table. The French were starting to effect a break through when the game was called and it looked like the French would successfully press their advantage had the game continued.

Austrians in the center zone: The French captured the important town, and thus won the game through the victory condition of holding the town at the end of the game. Other than that, the infantry on both sides appeared to be fighting at a stalemate.

Austrians on the left flank: my Austrians appeared to have stopped the British attack.

All in all, this was a very fun game to play. We hadn't attempted to play a game of this size since 2019, the year before the Covid shutdown so it was great to be able to toss lots of dice and move big battalions across the battle table top. And finally, it was great to see many old friends whom I had not seen in about three years.

Thanks again to Kieth and Donna L. for hosting the game, and thanks to Bill Protz for taking the initiative to organize the game, recruit the players, and create fun game scenario.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Minden Painted Hanoverian Musketeers


I was scrolling through some of my pictures of painted Minden figures and found these two photos of some Minden  Hanoverian musketeers. The figures were painted by Michael S. from Germany on commission for another collector. I think that they are from the Hardenberg regiment.

I don’t have armies for the Seven Years War in western Germany, but seeing these beauties does make it tempting to start Hanoverian and French armies.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Annual Christmas SYW Game Tomorrow


The Austrian form their battle line. This is a picture of my command,
 from the table edge to the wooded area on the table.

Click on pictures to enlarge

Our gaming group usually holds a large Big Battalion SYW game in early December of each year. We call it our Christmas War Game. This year it's a battle of the nations with Austrians, British, French and Prussians attending the ball, playing across three 6ft by 30ft tables. However, the most shocking aspect of the game is that the French and British are allies fighting the alliance of Austria and Prussia. (I didn't set up the ground rules here :) ).

Kieth L. is our host and he has graciously given us free run over the table in his large basement. We have players coming in from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

Der Alte Fritz is even changing sides and will command a brigade of Austrian infantry and cuirassiers. The world is indeed turned upside down!

Here are a few pictures of the battlefield with the troops already in their assigned positions:

The British starting point on one of the Left Table.
French forces are also located on this table.

A view of the Middle Table

A view of the Right Table
(Austrians and Prussians)

A mass of the Prussian heavy cavalry comprised of 
cuirassiers and dragoons.

Here is the objective that the armies are fighting for:

Some Ian Weekley buildings form a village at the crossroads
in the center of the table.

Another view of the village. Hopefully the civilians have the good sense
to hit the road and get out of Dodge City.

We will be using Bill Protz's rules, Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime" (or B.A.R. for short). We use the BAR rules for most of our games (SYW, Napoleonic, British Colonial eras) so most of the players are already familiar with the rules, which should speed up the pace of the game.

I will be posting pictures of the game over the next several days, so come on back and see all of the Fritz Pix.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Fife & Drum Black Friday Sale Begins Today


Sale starting date:   November 22, 2023

Sale ending date:    December 1, 2023

Discount Amount:  20%

Coupon Code:        Grenadier23

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all having a great time getting together with family and friends for this Thanksgiving Day holiday. Or maybe you are just enjoying a quiet day off from work and a long holiday weekend and you are looking forward to some time painting miniatures (that's what I do on my holiday).

I thought that I would  get a head start on our annual Black Friday 20% Discount Sale by kicking off the sale starting today rather than making you wait until Friday.

Just click on the link to the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store 

Fife & Drum Web Store Link

and scroll through the drop down menus at the top of the page. When you are finished with your order then proceed to check out and enter the coupon code Grenadier23 and your 20% discount will automatically be applied to your order.

Happy Thanksgiving holiday everyone. Don't eat too much turkey or else you might fall asleep and miss Fife and Drum Miniatures' Black Friday sale.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

My Pickett's Charge Project Video

This is not a picture of my game table. It was made by a fellow in the UK named Chris.
It is a spectacular diorama of the battle of Antietam.

I created a short video that provides and introduction to my Gettysburg Pickett's Charge project and posted it on You Tube. The video is approximately 4 minutes. Please feel free to leave a comment on the You Tube page and/or click the Like button and subscribe to my You Tube page. I will be loading more content over the course of the next twelve months and hopefully improve the quality of my videos, with more practice.

Confederate battery of 3-inch ordnance rifled cannon.
William Britains figures

Here is the link to the video on You Tube:

Pickett's Charge Project Video

As I increase the number of painted Union and Confederate soldiers that I have I will create some movie trailers for Pickett's Charge at Historicon 2024 in the same manner as the ones that I made for my Khartoum game this past year's Historicon 2023.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Update on my Pickett's Charge Project

North Carolina regiment of Confederates from Scales' Brigade.
Note the conversion of the figure on the left into a flag bearer on the right.
Figures from CTS (Classic Toy Soldiers)

I want to provide a brief update on my 54mm Pickett's Charge Project for Historicon 2024. As of the end of October 31, 2023 I have painted 8 Union regiments and 11 Confederate regiments. At 30 figures per regiment that is a total of 570 figures painted since August 1, 2023 and an average of 190 figures painted per month.

Brigade Organization for the game
My brigades for both armies are currently organized with three regiments of 30 figures each, or 90 figures total for a brigade. The plan is to have five brigades per side plus one artillery command per side, for a total of 12 players in the game.

The size of the units at 30 figures per regiment equates to roughly 300 soldiers using a 1:10 figure to man ratio. This seems like a reasonable regimental strength for ACW regiments during the mid-war period of 1863. Some of the Confederate regiments in Heth's Division of A.P. Hill's III Corps had upwards of 500 to 600 men, largely due to the fact that they had been stationed out of the active theaters of war (guarding Richmond and North Carolina) and thus retained more of their original strength prior to the start of the Gettysburg campaign. I consider these to be outliers. 

You might ask why I am only having three regiments in my brigades when in fact the brigades were likely to have four or five regiments at Gettysburg. The answer is: the unit frontage takes up a lot of space on the game table. Each five stand regiment of figures has a frontage of approximately 15-inches. Allowing for some space between the regiments when they are deployed in a regimental line (all 3 regiments deployed in one battle line), I need a table frontage of about 48-inches (or four feet). Assuming the need for a minimum of 12-inches between brigades for spacing purposes, let's assign an extra foot or 12-inches to each brigade frontage. Now we are looking at five feet of frontage for each brigade or 15 feet of tabletop space to deploy Pickett's Division of three brigades.

Armistead's Brigade deployed with a brigade frontage of two regiments
and a supporting third regiment forming a second line.

Now assuming that the good folks at Historicon would allow me to have a table that is 20 feet in length, the entire division with a brigade frontage would take up 15 feet and have 2-1/2 feet of open space on the flanks. That is fairly tight. It also only allows for three brigades or three players on the Confederate side and maybe a fourth command if one player commands all of the artillery in each army. I need 5 to 6 commands per side.
Alternative Tabletop Plan
An alternate idea is to deploy each brigade in a two regiment frontage (30-inches plus 6-inches of space between the regiments, or 36-inches of frontage ) with the third regiment deployed behind the front two regiments. This reduces the brigade frontage by 12-inches (one foot). Now I can potentially add a fourth brigade to the Confederate battle line which now takes up 12 feet of frontage on the table. Let's add another foot per brigade for spacing (or 4 more feet) which brings the Confederate battle line to 16 feet of total tabletop space. This allows for 2 more feet of open space on each flank to use up the entire 20 feet length of the table surface. 

Were I to scoot the Confederate right flank to the righthand edge of the table, that gains an additional two feet that could increase the left flank open are from two feet to four feet. I could compensate for the lack of flank space on the right hand side of the Confederate line by allowing off table firing from the Union side. This would simulate the flanking fire that Kemper's brigade was taking on the right flank of Pickett's division during the assault on Cemetery Ridge.

Still Missing a Sixth Confederate Command
The scheme outlined above allows for four Confederate brigade players plus a fifth player commanding all of the Confederate artillery (Porter Alexander). I still need one more player command in the game. After scratching my head for awhile and humming a few bars of "When Johny Comes Marching Home Again" I hit on the idea of deploying a second battle line behind Pickett's division that provides support to the main attack. This would represent elements of Scales' brigade and/or Pettygrew's Division. This might work.

So now I am envisioning Pickett's Division deployed on the table with 12 feet of frontage on a 20 foot long table. Then Pettygrew's Division of three brigades would be deployed "en echelon" slightly behind Pickett's Division. This results in 6 infantry brigades plus an artillery brigade for a total of seven Confederate player commands! 

What About the Union Player Commands?
I would have to run through the similar calculations for the Union army player commands, but without going through the math in my head (I hate it when that happens) I envision five Union brigades with each brigade commander having a battery of artillery attached to his/her brigade.  So 7 Confederate plus 5 Union player commands gets us to 12 player commands in the game. Perfect. 

Basing All of these figure stands
After painting all of these figures, now comes the hard part of putting them on bases and organizing them into regiments. As of October 31st I have based 5 Confederate and 1 Union regiment(s) out of 11 regiments, so I have some serious work to do! I will have to take a break from my painting and pitch into the task of basing what I have so as to not let the backlog of units and figures pile up. If I were to wait much longer I would be faced with the tedious task of basing way too many figures. It can be very daunting.

Here are some of the unbased Confederate regiments that are on my work bench:

Confederate regiments from Kemper's Brigade awaiting the application of ground terrain.
Armistead's Brigade at Gettysburg as organized for my Pickett's Charge game.

Ground level view of one of the Confederate regiments.

What's Next?

So after basing the remaining 7 Union and 5 Confederate regiments, then I will go back to painting Union regiments. I want to increase the Union army from 8 regiments to 12 regiments. That will give me 12 regiments per side all ready to go and play on the tabletop. That means that I have 3 to 6 regiments per side that I need to paint going forward after the Union side reaches 12 regiments.

I am well ahead of schedule in terms of my painting so I might take a little break and start working on some of the terrain that I will need for the game. I'm looking at about 36 feet of post and rail turnpike fencing to cover the 18 foot long Emmitsburg Road in my game. Yikes!