Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Battalion Game News

Der Alte Fritz and his staff commence preparations for the next Big Battalion Game.

One of my readers had the impression that Der Alte Fritz's annual Big Battalion Game was a private affair, and I wanted to make it clear that the game is open to anyone who would like to attend. All you have to do is drop me a message, either in the "comments" box on this site, or via e-mail at the following box:

The game will be held on Saturday October 10, 2009 in Woodstock, Illinois. I am working on a map with directions for anyone who is interested in attending. Woodstock is a suburb of Chicago, northwest of the city and is about an hour's drive from the northern suburbs and an equal drive from the Milwaukee, WI area. In the past, we have had gamers attend from far and wide, including Nova Scotia in Canada and Minneapolis. So mark your calendar and let me know if you would like to play. This is wargaming as it was meant to be played.

Here is a picture from our second Big Battalion Game - one of two such tables that were 6ft wide by 24 ft long. Now imagine playing this same game on three such tables as shown above. That means lots of flank space and even more depth. Wowzers!

August Painting Points
I was a bit of a slacker this month, only logging 76 Olley Painting Points for the month of August (compared to 102 points in July and a rediculous 252 points in June). This month's production included 12 Minden Austrian cuirasseirs (2 pts each or 24pts total), 20 Suren SYW British Guards, 2 Elite Miniatures SYW British, 6 old Elite 1806 Napoleonics, and 24 new Elite 1806 Napoleonics. I had to complete my fourth battalion (72 figures) of French for further play testing of our Napoleonic rules.

I will probably try to cut back the production and keep the painting points closer to my goal of 70 points per month. In fact, I have exceeded this amount each month, averaging well over 100 points per month. It is time for a little more balance in life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Prime Day

Today was a sunny and cool day here in Hesse Seewald. In fact it was downright chilly in the mid 60s on what is supposed to be a hot Summer day. That being the case, I felt that the weather would be perfect for priming figures. The lack of humidity means that I did not have to worry about the spray primer "fuzzing up" into little balls of black fuzz on the figures.

First on the list were 48 French Napoleonic figures for my 1806 Project. These figures were some of the original Peter Morbey sculpts that I am still looking for. I have acquired enough to build a 72 figure battalion of French. These are smaller and more life-like than the current Elite range, and I like them much better. In fact, I liked them so much that I set to work on the first half dozen figures later in the day. With Napoleonics, I paint them in batches of 12 figures as this is the number of figures that I have in a company. Any more than that would simply sap my will to live. I don't like to paint all of that piping on the lapels, cuffs and turnbacks. On the other hand, since I do like the older Elite figures better than the current range, my eagerness to paint them should be higher than normal.

Next on the priming table was another dozen of the Minden SYW Austrian cuirassiers that I have in stock. As you may recall, I painted the first squadron of the Alt Modena cuirassier regiment earlier in the month. My plan is to alternate between a squadron of Minden cuirassiers and a company of Elite 1806 French.

Happy Anniversary
I almost forgot that I passed my second anniversary of this blog a couple of days ago. I recall that the sitemeter hit counter thingy indicated that over 130,000 hits have been counted since day one, or an average of 65,000 visits per year. I am humbled by the thought that so many people have taken the time to visit this blog. Thank you all for helping to make this blog so much fun to do.

Annual Big Battalion Game Coming Up
The annual Big Battalion Old School Wargaming game is set for Saturday October 10, 2009 so I am busy working on a scenario for this game. This year's event will be held in the home of my friend Keith Leidy, or to be more exact, in his basement. This is the same venue where we have been playing all of those humongous In The Grand Manner wargames. Keith has three 6ft by 28ft tables running parallel to one another. Thus we will have a center table with two full sized back tables for each army (as opposed to a 3ft wide back table per side). So this game will have more table space. Another advantage is the fact that Bill, Randy and I can set up the terrain and position our forces several days before the start of the game. This eliminates set up time on the game day, meaning that we can get started right away. That should make for a better game, I think.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leuthen Diorama Link

Following an inquiry this evening on The Miniatures Page, I added a link to a web site that features a Battle of Leuthen diorama. This is not the famous diorama at the Bavarian Army Museum in Ingolstadt, but it is a fairly close runnerup for "best in show" and is worth taking a peak.

You can access the site at the link above, or the link posted on the left side of this page, title "Leuthen Diorama".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Lady Emma Update

Lady Emma and Der Alte Fritz, earlier this summer.

Thursday morning we will be visiting the surgeon who did the surgery on Lady Emma so that she can see how her patient is doing. It has been two weeks since the surgery and Lady Emma has been quite the trooper when it comes to staying in bed and laying on her back (for two weeks) with nary a complaint. The stitches seem to be doing their job and hopefully the surgeon will give us the OK to get out of bed and become a little more active.

There is not too much to report on the painting front, other than the completion of 21 more Suren SYW British Guards to bring that battalion up to 60 figures. A company of grenadiers will follow soon. I also primed 30 Elite Miniatures SYW British firing and loading. This will become the 12th (Napier's) Regiment of Foot, which was one of the Minden regiments.

Update: Thursday August 20, 2009

The doctor removed the stitches from Lady Emma's back and gave us the green light to return to a somewhat normal level of activity. Lady Emma is very happy to be liberated from laying down on the couch. We are going to take the royal hounds for a short stroll around the block now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alt Modena Cuirassiers

Minden Austrian Cuirassiers and infantry officer painted as the Alt Modena Regiment (click all pictures to enlarge the view).

I have been working on a 12-figure squadron of Minden Miniatures Austrian Cuirassiers for the Seven Years War over the past week and I thought that everyone would want to see the early pictures, even though I haven't had time to terrain the bases. I chose the Alt Modena regiment because it is the only one to sport blue facings. Every other Austrian cuirassier regiment had red facings. My copy of the Albertina Manuscript drawings indicates that the officers in the regiment had red shabraques while the rank and file had blue shabraques.

The regiment's "inhaber" was Franz III d'Este, the Duke of Modena, which was one of the Habsburg's Italian possessions. Christopher Duffy notes that the regiment fought at Kolin, participated in Hadik's raid on Berlin, and was distinguished at Maxen. It also fought at Landeshut and Liegnitz. The rank and file came largely from Moravia (54%) and Bohemia (24%) and its losses were about 10% of the regiment throughout the war. This was far below the average for Austrian cavalry. Duffy also notes that most of the regiment's losses reflected desertions rather than outright casualties.

A couple of frontal views of the squadron plus a Minden Austrian infantry officer riding on the flank of the squadron. The flag is from Vaubanner Graphics.

A side shot of the squadron in a column formation, shows off the beauty of the Minden horses, as well as that fine trooper castings.

Eventually the regiment will have 60 riders or five squadrons. I tend to paint cavalry in groups of twelve figures, which happens to be the size of my squadrons using the BAR rules for the SYW. I have to say that these figures are a joy to paint and they are probably the easiest cavalry figures that I have ever painted. The castings are clean and smooth so the brush just glides over the surface. Furthermore, the absence of extra equipment such as fodder bags, dead rabbits and pots and pans means that they paint a little bit faster (since one does not have to paint all of the extra kit that would have been left behind at the baggage wagon park anyway).

I didn't paint the details on the shabraque for this unit. The pistol housings would have a white Austrian double eagle while the saddle cloth would have the "MT" royal cypher in lower left corner. The white edging would have some blue wavy lines. While some people are good at painting such details, I am not and I find that it tends to clutter the appearance of the figure, so I often pick the prodominant color of the shabraque and its edging and just use those colors.

I will probably start on the second squadron tomorrow and work on it over the weekend.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lady Emma Returns Home!

Lady Emma shares her mail with Piglet and Ga (the Bear) after arriving home from the hospital today.

We were given the green light to go home this afternoon, and we left Childrens' Memorial Hospital at 4pm. I couldn't believe all of the extra stuff that we accumulated over the past four days as family and close friends paid their visits and brought lots of helium mylar balloons and stuffed animals and flowers. I felt as if we need Allied Van Lines to truck all of the stuff home.

The royal hounds, Dave and Katie were happy to see us, judged by the velocity of their tail waggings, and we were equally as happy to see them and our humble home. Our sitter Paula had set up the family room sofa for a home bed and so I was able to transport the little munchkin directly from the car to her bed. She is supposed to lie on her back for the next two weeks and let things heal. She can get up and walk to the dinner table or use the washroom (WC), but that is all.

And now the hard part begins: home healthcare and rehab. I have to carry her up the stairs to her bedroom and I suspect that after a night or two of this we will set up permanent quarters on the main (first) floor of the house. Either that or my back is going to go out of whack - she's gotten heavier as she approaches her eleventh birthday. It's a far cry from carrying a little toddler up the stairs in my arms. Also, I don't want to put any stress on the incision by carrying her up the stairs. so I think that we may take her bed apart and reassemble it downstairs in the family room. I have a new appreciation for male nurses and other home healthcare workers. It's great to be home, but we no longer have a full staff at our beck and call to do all of the work.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lady Emma Update

Due to popular request, here is an update on Lady Emma's condition. The doctors looked at her incision today (about 2-3 inches long at the base of her spine) and said that it was healing up nicely. Tomorrow, Sunday, they will have her sit up and see if she can do that without any pain. If it goes well, then we could be coming home on Sunday. We don't really know at this point, but we are all hopeful that this will be our last night at the hospital. (I'm getting tired of hospital food and McDonalds' :) )

This evening we are all watching the White Sox vs Indians baseball game and Lady Emma is happy that the Sox are winning so far, 6 to 5 in the 7th inning.

Minden Miniatures - Prinz Ferdinand's Army

Minden Prussian Jagers painted as Brunswick Jagers by the talented Ioannis.

I was killing some time today in the hospital and thought that it would be nice to pop in for a visit at Ioannis' Leuthen Journal. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ioannis has been busy painting elements for Ferdinand of Brunswick's Allied army in Western Germany. It is even better that the figures of choice are the wonderful Minden Miniatures range of figures, designed by Richard Ansell for Frank Hammond. As you might be aware, the range recently expanded to include the Hanoverian army. So if one were inclined, one could field the Allied army using nothing but Minden Miniatures (British, Hanoverians and Prussians standing in for Hessians and Brunswick and Schaumburg-Lippe forces).

You can follow this link to the site and see the figures first hand:

Brunswick Carabiniers painted by Ioannis using Minden Miniatures.

Looking at the photograph above, I think that Ioannis really nailed the color correctly on the "kollet" or buff/chamois uniform coat that many of the cuirassiers used in various armies during the 18th Century. It looks like the same color used in the Knotel plates. Perhaps Ioannis could share his paint formula with us, either here, on his site, or on TMP.

It kind of makes you want to paint an Allied army to fight the French in Western Germany, don't you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day Two Update

Things seem to be going fairly well at the field hospital today. We were finally assigned a room around 8pm last evening (they had to clear out and clean the room from the previous tenant). So we watched a few of the DVDs that we brought with us. My favorite was a film called Matilda, with Danny Devito - highly recommended! Lady Emma had all of her color back in her cheeks and her appetite was coming back, all of which are good signs. In fact, save for the fact that she had IV tubes coming out of her arms, one wouldn't have know that she just had surgery, her disposition was so good.

I slept in Lady Emma's room and let her Mom slumber in the parents' waiting room, where it was quieter. We are in a ward with six other kids of various ages, who have all come back from surgery. There is lots of noise in the ward, but things began to quiet down around midnight. Nurses come in about every hour, so it is hard to sleep. I gave Lady Emma some water several times during the night, but all in all, she has been a cooperative patient. I think that I actually got about four hours of sleep, broken up into blocks of an hour here and there. At 7:30 AM, a posse of about 7 doctors and residents made the rounds and paid us a visit. Curious that. I don't know what they do. It is a teaching hospital so I guess the residents are learning or something like that.

So things seem to be going well. I think that they will release us on Sunday. Staying in the hospital is not as hard as I thought it would be. It must be the parenting thing kicking in. They are going to move us to another room this afternoon, for two patients, so it should be a quieter night tonight. I want to thank everyone for their kind comments and well wishes. Lady Emma, her Mom and I all appreciate everyone sentiments more than you can imagine.

Update - 9PM Thursday Evening
I'm taking a short break from the hospital to go home, check in on the dogs and assure them that we haven't disappeared, pick up the mail, shower and sleep in a bed. Then it will back to the hospital friday morning. My wife gets to take friday night off as we trade off. I left her with the laptop so she will be getting in touch with all of her friends this evening. As I left, I checked back into Lady Emma's room and she was fast asleep at 7pm, totally conked out. She will get the bandages taken off of her finger tomorrow, which will give her the use of both hands again. She tried to play some X Box DS games but said that her "fingers didn't work". She is charming the entire staff of the hospital, or so it seems.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lady Emma Goes To Surgery

Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe on a better day, defeating her Daddy in a wargame recently.

Today we are at Childrens' Memorial Hospital waiting for our daughter, "Lady Emma", to undergo surgery on her back to correct a condition that she has. This is a sort of "twofer" operation as we are also having a cyste removed from her finger. The hand surgeon will do the cyste removal first and then when he is finished, the neurosurgeon will do the work on her back, near the base of the spine.

Lady Emma was quite the brave soldier this morning and didn't express anything but the mildest of concern about the pending operation. We have been faced with this for nearly two years, so I think that she has had sufficient time to grow accustomed to the idea of the surgery. So she seems to be taking it much better than her Mother and Dad.

We should be finished with both operations around 4PM this afternoon and then we will get to see her in the recovery room. We plan to spend the night in her room tonight and then spend the next three or four days through Sunday with her. Mom and Dad will trade off spending nights at the hospital after the first night. Once Lady Emma comes home, she will have one to two weeks on her back waiting for the incision to heal.

I will post updates as we get some progress reports. I am rather surprised that I was able to figure out how to blog on the laptop, so I guess that you really can teach an old dog some new tricks.

As of 2:45pm the finger surgery was successful and they were getting Lady Emma ready for the back surgery.

Update at 4pm C.S.T - Chicago
They are closing Lady Emma up right now so things seem to be moving along nicely and faster than I had expected. The finger surgeon also reported that the cyst appeared to be benign, but they are sending it to the lab to be sure. I would expect that we shall be seeing Lady Emma in recovery within the hour.

Update at 4:40pm CST - Chicago
We just met with the surgeon and she told us that everything went exactly as she expected it to be, based on her prior view of the MRI pictures. She gave us a good run down on what to expect during the next several days and throughout the recovery period. We are very pleased to have all of this over with. It went so fast. Now for the long recovery period.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Minden Pictures - Part I

Muhlbeerkamp was actually in the centre of the French battle line, which was really more of an "L-Shape" line, with Muhlbeerkamp being the angle. However, for our battle, it represented the French right (Allied left). Here you see one of the French grand batteries deployed such that it could fire into the left flank of the British advance.

Please click on all pictures to enlarge the view.

The village of Hahlen anchored the French left (Allied right). Anhalt's piquets of Hanoverian and Brunswick troops contested the town and captured it from Guerchy's French.

The first wave of some 2,000 French cavalry are startled to see 8 battalions of redcoats marching straight towards them. Since they had no small arms to defend themselves, they had to rely on the "arme blanche", the sword, and thus had no choice but to retire or charge. So charge it was. The first line of French cavalry included the Mestre de Camp and Royal Cravattes, 11 squadrons in all.

More French cavalry - I can't recall whether this was part of the first line or the second line. These are mostly Elite Miniatures French from the collection of Bill Protz.

The onrush of the French cavalry. Sporken's brigade stopped and prepared to receive them. Every round would have to tell.

The French cavalry close in on Sporken's brigade. "Steady lads, wait for the order".

"Ready, Present, Fire! ", barked the British officers. The first wave was smashed and many empty saddles returned to the French lines.

The French are repulsed and their right hand squadrons recoil from the hail of bullets unleashed by the thin red line.

Le Duc de Fitzjames does not look pleased as his cavalry returns to their own lines (these are mostly RSM figures from Der Alte Fritz's collection used in his conventional games at 1:30, but the frontages of the stands are the same as in BAR, so we were able to use these units in our game. One regiment of 12 figures (360 men) became one squadron (120 men) in BAR),

Guerchy/Lusace's brigades on the French left near Hahlen form an impressive grand battery of artillery that whittled down the right flank of Sporken's brigades as they advanced against the French cavalry.

Our refight of the battle of Minden on Saturday August 1, 2009 was really two different battles. The first battle was an historical simulation of the attack of the French cavalry against Sporken's brigade of British and Hanoverian soldiers. Host Bill Protz, staged the whole game and served as a sort of "director" of the film. We would move troops across the table and Bill would halt the game briefly and have us move certain units to other positions so as to recreate the battle as closely as possible. For example, when it became apparent that the French artillery were killing off too many British figures, he allowed us to replace some of our casualties. When the French cavalry attacked and engaged the British foot in melee, he would direct the French players to retire back to their lines if they did not win the round of melee. We only fought one round of cavalry versus infantry melee during this phase.

Later, after the three waves of French cavalry attacked and were repulsed, we converted over to a conventional wargame and let the dice and the cards decide the outcome. The British infantry won the simulation phase, while the French won the wargame part of the game. More on that tomorrow in part II of this report.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Minden - 250th Anniversary

The second wave of French cavalry charges across the Minden heath where a thin red line of British and Brown Bess await them.

Today is the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Minden, fought in 1759 by the French army of Marshal Contades and the allied army of British, Hanoverian, Hessian and Prussian soldiers under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. We stage our refight of the battle in Brown Deer, Wisconsin using our "Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or BAR) " rules. It has been a long day and I must retire to bed for the evening, but I will post more pictures and a battle report tomorrow. Who won? You will have to come back tomorrow for the answer.

Suren British Guards - 1st Regiment

Close up picture of the new addition to my British army: the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards with Suren figures and GMB Designs flags.

A longer view of the regiment so far: 45 figures including 5 RSM figures that I had to borrow for today's game. The RSM figures are the ones on the plain green, unterrained bases.

I had a late surge in painting production towards the latter part of this week as I wanted to finish of the 14 partially painted Suren figures and build the Foot Guards up to a viable number of figures for use in our Minden game. I ended up with 40 Surens and then I recruited 5 RSM British figures that I had painted for the Guards in an earlier project. I was desperate so I plunked them down on the base. Eventually, this unit will have 60 center company figures plus 12 grenadiers for a total of 72 figures.

I finished the month with 102 Olley Painting Points: 19 mounted figures (2 points each), 63 foot (1 point each) and one cannon (1 point). Included in that total were 8 Suren Black Watch that were partially painted and finished off on thursday night. I don't count a figure as painted unless it is completed in that month. So sometimes, I have a few figures that are "almost done" but they don't get tallied until they are finished.