Friday, June 21, 2019

Hessian AWI Jagers are now in stock!

New Fife & Drum Miniatures AWI Hessian Jagers.

The new AWI Hessian Jagers have been added to the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI range of figures and they are now available for purchase from our webstore Here

There are two new infantry pack codes HP-008 Jager Command and HP-009 Jagers Skirmishing as well as one new regimental pack HR-003 Hessian Jager Regiment. The regimental pack saves you 10% off the retail price of the individual figure packs.

Closeup view of the seven new figure poses for the jagers

HP-008 Hessian Jager Command pack features one officer with telescope,
one musician with horn, and one NCO.

HP-009 Hessian Jagers Skirmishing

HP-009 Hessian Jagers Skirmishing

These new jager figures are ideal for small skirmish level wargames such as Sharp Practice as well as for more conventional set piece table top battles.

Monday, June 17, 2019

New Minden Greens: Bosniaken Lancers

Bosniaken uhlans - Richard Knotel

Bosniaken (L-R) officer, musician and lancer.
Sculpted by Richard Ansell

We have the greens for 16 new figures that will be added to the Minden Miniatures figure range shortly. The figures are handsomely sculpted by Richard Ansell as most of my blog readers already know. Today's post features the Bosniaken, but I will post pictures of the other figures later in the week. Click on the link below to the Kronoskaf page that provides a history of the Bosniaken. The regiment was usually brigaded with the Black Hussars (H5-von Reusch):

The reverse view of the first picture.

Christopher Duffy uses the term "comical" in his description of the Bosniaken in his book, "The Army of Frederick the Great". Comical and uhlan lancers - what's not to like about this cavalry regiment. Besides, they add a bit of color to the Prussian army.

The latest batch of figures includes the French Gendarmerie de France, who fought at the battle of Minden, so you can guess why I had Richard sculpt these figures. I will show more pictures of the Gendarmerie de France in a post later this week, but for now, here is a teaser:

A preview of the Gendarmerie de France

We are also adding the Prussian Guards from the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the IR15 guard regiment. The first battalion was the parade ground group with the fancy uniforms. Since they only fought in one battle of the Seven Years War (Kolin in 1757) they have not been added to the range at this time. Again, I will post pictures of the guard later this week.

And finally, we have a Hanoverian infantry officer carrying a musket instead of a pole arm. One of my long-time customers kept asking me to add this figure, over a number of years in fact, so I finally had an open place in one of the moulds to add this figure.

Hanoverian musketeer officer carrying a musket instead of pole arm.

Reverse view of the Hanoverian officer.

If you are interested in getting an early and more detailed preview of all new figures, as they come through the door, then why not consider joining the Fife and Drum Miniatures Forum. I usually post pictures of the greens in the forum before I post them on my blog.

You will have to sign up for the forum the first time that you enter, but it is easy to do and there are no obligations to be a contributor or to chat. Lurkers are always welcome!

The greens will be sent off to Griffin Moulds within the next several days. There, master and production moulds will be made and then the figures can be cast. The whole process from start to having castings in my inventory, here in the States, takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

French Dragoons

Minden French Dragoons painted as the Apchon dragoon regiment.

I am working my way through the French army codes in the Minden Miniatures figure range and adding pictures to the on-line catalog. So when you want to buy one of the items you will have a picture of that product code and see what the figures look like. If there are 8 figures in the  pack, then all eight figures shown in the picture will be painted.

French dragoons are now painted and added to the webstore. These are MFC-003 Dragoon Command Pack and MFC-004 Dragoon Troopers. Click on the link below to visit the Fife and Drum Miniatures webstore:

The samples shown in the  pictures below are painted as the Apchon dragoon regiment. There is no information about the uniform of the mounted drummer, but Kronoskaf indicates that the musicians wore the livery of the House of Apchon, which is unknown. The regiment had a cavalry guidon with a green field and gold edging, so I speculated that green and gold (yellow) might be the colors of the Apchon livery. 

Apchon Dragoon Regiment guidon.
(source: Kronoskaf)
The drummer's coat is a very light yellow with green turnbacks and cuffs. I used green for the shabraque for the same reason, speculating on the Apchon colors, but I also used the blue and yellow border that the dragoon troopers had.

The standard bearer's staff is painted in a striped green and yellow design, barbershop pole motif, using the Apchon colors. Again, this is pure speculation and I wanted to have a little bit of fun with the samples.

MFC-003 French Dragoon Command
Minden Miniatures

French dragoon troopers (MFC-004)

The Apchon dragoons - Minden Miniatures

You can read the history of the Apchon dragoon regiment on Kronoskaf HERE

Well, now that I have six figures of the Apchon regiment painted, I might as well paint six more troopers to give me a 12-figure cavalry regiment. Because French cavalry regiments tended to be smaller (only 1 to 2 squadrons), I use 12 figures to represent a French regiment. I then usually brigade two such units to form a 24-figure cavalry unit.

Next up on the painting table, some French hussars that will be used as catalog pictures.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Flats Are Fun

Battle of Schweinsburg gamed with flats from Christian Rogge's collection
I have always been a little bit intrigued by the German flat figures for the Seven Years War. The makers of flats have always been very creative in their poses and these often give me ideas for new figures in the Minden Seven Years War figure range.

As you can see from many of the pictures below (mostly from Christian Rogge's collection), one can stage a very good looking wargame using flats.

Battle of Laufeldt - Christian Rogge collection

While flats seem to be aimed towards collectors ( I could be wrong about this), there are some wargamers in Germany that game using flats. One particularly good blog about such activities is the one that Christian Rogge publishes from time to time:

Rogge Blog Header photo
Christian's blog is worth a click. Scroll down through his blog archives and you will find a number of terrific posts about his specialty: research of WAS/SYW era artillery pieces. His schematic drawings were used as a guide in the sculpting of various Fife and Drum Miniatures artillery pieces.

Here are some pictures of German flats that I found on Pinterest:

Prussian cavalry and grenadiers at Rossbach

Austrian cavalry flats.

The Berliner Zinnfiguren website is a good place to visit if you are interested in buying unpainted or even painted SYW flats. Herr Schulz and family have long made their own brand of flats going back to the 1920s, if I recall correctly.

Another famous maker of flats is Henrichsen, which are often available on eBay. The company has been out of business for quite awhile, so their figures are harder to find.

Wargamer Steve Cady is a master painter of flats and I enjoy reading his posts about his latest "finds" and painted flat figures. Again, this blog is worth the click:

While flats are traditionally made with a tin alloy, you can also find flats made from wood at Skull & Crown:

These are particularly compelling figures that would be fun to game with.

Who knows, may one day I will start painting flats and put on a "really Old School" wargame with them.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

My Prussian Skirmish Game Units

Croats ambush a Prussian supply wagon and its escort of dismounted hussars.
(Minden Miniatures, Perry supply wagon, Cigar Box Battles game mat)

Click/Double Click all pictures to see them in their full awesomeness.

Well, we seem to have come down with a case of skirmish game fever here at Schloss Seewald, and the only prescription for the fever is either more cowbell or paint more figures. I have opted for the latter seeing that I do not own any cowbells.

I have pretty much decided that my convention games for 2020 will all be skirmish level games set in either the SYW or the AWI, or even both! I have observed that convention gamers seem to have more fun playing in the smaller skirmish games, where they might command anything from one to, say, 24 figures, than they do in large battalion/regiment styles of games.

Possible skirmish scenarios include the ever popular ambush of the wagon train convoy, or a raid on the field bakery of the enemy (an army can't fight without bread), or the capture of a certain king who likes to ride out in the country on reconnaisance. You get the idea.

Croat Terror Strikes Again!

A Prussian field bakery seems like a ripe target for a Croat raid.
( A mix of RSM and Minden figures. Field bakery ovens scratch-built by Ed Phillips;
the other buildings were made by Herb Gundt).

An added benefit, I think, is that it should be easier to transport all of the components of a skirmish game set up than it is for a larger game of 12-16 regiments per side. At least I think that to be the case, but if you have been a reader of this blog since its inception in 2010, you know that Der Alte Fritz doesn't like to do anything nice and easy, so there is a risk that the size of my skirmish game set up could grow like kudzu.

I digress though...

Prussian Black Hussars - one of my favorite cavalry uniforms of all time.
(Minden Miniatures dismounted Prussian hussars in mirliton hats)

The Genesis of this Particular Butterfly
The attraction of the skirmish game began to germinate at the recent Seven Years War Association convention in April 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. I was talking with Paul Petri and Herb Gundt about the dearth of game on Saturday evening of the convention and we were trying to gin up a solution to get more games for that time slot. It used to be that Saturday evening was THE Prime Time slot at the convention, but somewhere along the line, the attraction seemed to fade away. I noticed that people were taking off earlier on Saturday and traveling home, whereas they used to stay at the hotel on Saturday night and go home on Sunday.

What to do? Schedule games that are more fun and less serious on Saturday night. Now I know of one curmudgeon who bristles at the idea of wargames being fun, but let's cross him off our list as an outlier on the extreme and focus on the large majority of gamers who go to a convention to have some fun. ("No Fritz, I want to travel several hundred miles to a convention and have a miserable time in each game that I play in.").

First, the Rules
I decided that I needed to have a set of skirmish rules that are easy to learn and yes, fun to play, and ones that could introduce a certain level of role playing. Sharp Practice seemed like a good set, at least until I played them at the Little Wars convention this year. I liked the rules, but they seemed too complicated for a person to pick up right away (that would be ME). Skirmish game rules need to be easy, easy and more easy to learn so that the players can step into their roles and start stabbing their fellow gamers in the back, as needed, during the game.

I looked at a number of skirmish level rules, but then deep in the cobwebs of my brains, I remembered that I used to use my own set of rules, called "Croat Terror", for skirmish games and they met my requirements of (1) easy to learn, and (2) fun to play. The title of the rules has its genesis in a FIW game that Tod Kershner used to run at conventions, called "Iroquois Terror." I thought that Tod's title instantly conveyed the concept of fun, so when I sought to have a game set in Europe, the idea of roving bands of Croat light infantry wreeking terror on Prussian supply convoys led to the name "Croat Terror for my rules. In this day and age of global terrorism, perhaps the title has too much of a raw edge to it and might have to be renamed. What was acceptable in the 1990s may be less so in 2019. Your thoughts on this would be appriciated.

So I decided to go with the "Croat Terror " rules for my skirmish games.

Organizing the Forces
I think that once skirmish units get to be more than about 20-30 figures, then we are no longer talking about playing a skirmish game. I can't pinpoint the precise size, but it is one of those "I'll know it when I see it" types of things. I have elected to go with a company of 12 figures as the basic building block of the combatants. Each group of 12 figures has one NCO in it - this is what I am calling a "company" of figures. Two such companies are commanded by an officer, probably at the captain or major rank.

Some examples of the figure organization are shown below - Prussian freikorps troops and Prussian jagers. The individual stands (25mm diameter discs) and movement trays will be finished off with my usual static grass and tufts or flower. My apologies for showing them in their unfinished state.

Prussian frei-battalion or regiment. Two companies of twelve figures plus a commanding officer.
The forces include a mix of Fife & Drum AWI Continentals painted as Prussians
and some Fife & Drum AWI Hessians painted as Prussians.

Prussian jagers - two companies of 12 figures plus a commanding officer.
(Minden Miniatures, all)
I am using 25mm diameter wood discs for the individual figures, which fit into a movement tray that holds the 12 figures in the company. The NCO is one of the figures on the movement tray plus 11 rank and file soldiers. I decided on using Litko movement trays for my skirmish companies. They are reasonably priced, the unit looks nice and tidy in the tray, and Litko provides really great customer service.

Portable Terrain

I mentioned that portability of the terrain was an important consideration for me. I use a 6ft by 12ft canvas matt that rolls  up onto a cylinder. The problem is that the cylinder is six feet long, so it can be a problem finding a place for it when I load up my car with "game stuff". I have seen a number of game judges using the Cigar Box Battles game mats, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, and so I purchased two 6ft by 5ft mats that are designed to match up (roads to roads, etc.) for my skirmish games. I can fold the mats up into a smaller, rectangular size that takes up way less room than the six foot cylinder. That is a big plus as far as I'm concerned.

I should add that I really like the Cigar Box game mats.

Once the mat is set up on the table, then it is a simple matter of placing trees and buildings and whatever else strikes your fancy onto the game mat. I carry all of my buildings and trees in plastic stackable bins that have a pull-out drawer. When I am packing up, it is easy to put the few buildings into a plastic bin and then do the same for the trees. That's pretty much it as far as the terrain goes. Easy peasy and everything is all tickety-boo.

Figures to use in the Game

Naturally, I am largely using Minden SYW and Fife and Drum AWI miniatures. I add in the occasional RSM and/or Perry figure here and there. Perry has some nice civilian figures in their AWI figure range that are worth having a look. I like to have a lot of civilians roaming around the perifery of the game table. But you had best beware, if you decide to attack a civilian with one of your soldiers, be advised that the civilians can fight back. Oftentimes the civilians are noncombatants, but once one of them are attacked, then they band together and go crazy on the offending side. 

The Tale of Bucket Woman
I recall one game in which a Croat player decided to kill a woman carrying one of those water bucket yokes. We called her Bucket Woman and she was a deadly fighter. To begin, one Croat attacked Bucket Woman and didn't realize that she could and would fight back. The Croat got clocked by one swing of her water bucket yoke.

Bucket Woman - the Biggest Badass in Silesia
(Minden Croats, Foundry Bucket Woman, and Perry Ma and Pa figures)

Two Croats warily approach the dreaded Bucket Woman.
Ma and Pa are in the background observing  the things to come.

OK, then the Croat player decided that he would attack again, only this time with two Croats.  Bad idea, because a water yoke has two wooden buckets and with one swing to the left and one swing to the right Bucket Woman dispatched two more naer-do-well Croats. 

Finally, the Croat player's blood was up and he wanted revenge, however, he was now wise to the ways of Bucket Woman and decided to shoot her rather than get in another melee with her.  And not with just one Croat, but with five Croats, just to make sure. As you might guess, the Croats fired and all of them missed.

But wait, there's more... Bucket Woman had a pistol concealed in her robes and as the black powder smoke from the Croat muskets wafted up into the air, she pulled out her pistol, aimed it at one of the Croats, and despatched him with one shot.

Finally, the Croat player decided that he had had enough and retreated away from Bucket Woman. No one else dared to engage her thereafter.

This is the type of story that makes skirmish games so much fun. They can be very unpredictable and the players can't help but get involved with the role playing aspect of the game.

My Proposed Austrian and Prussian Forces

I will have to do a number of play tests to determine whether a player should have only one company of 12 figures, or will two companies work too, or will two companies clog up the table. Let me know what your thoughts are: 12 figures per player or 24 figures per player.

Thus far I have painted 2 x 12 Prussian Freikorps infantry, 2 x 12 Prussian jagers, 1 x 12 dismounted Black Hussars, and I'm in the process of finishing up 1 x 12 dismounted Zieten Hussars.

My Austrian army currently has 2 x 12 Croats and 2 x 12 Austrian grenadiers with some more units to follow to even up the sides.

I am making good progress in my painting of the skirmish figures so I hope to be able to run some play test games over the summer.

I think that we are going to have a lot of FUN with the Skirmish Game Project

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Hochkirch terrain

Hochkirch landscape

The fertile agricultural terrain of Saxony near the town of Hochkirch

The Prussian camp at Hochkirch

The Prussians have set up a checkpoint on the eastern edge of the town...

...and another checkpoint guarding the southern approach.

A view of the center of the town. The gasthaus Der Alter Fritz is on the left, while another
brauhaus with stables are on the right side.
The bars may be off limits to the soldiers, but the local citizens
convene for Happy Hour at 5PM in Hochkirch.

The Prussian field bakery is in the process of being constructed. One brick oven has been assembled, while two more ovens are nearing completion.

The Prussian staff convene at the King's tent for their orders of the day.

Meanwhile, there are quite a few things going on among the tents of the camp.

Meanwhile, on the southern approaches to the town, the Prussians have set up a check point, placing cheveau de frise barriers across the road. A striped guard house lets people know that this is a military  site. The local citizens come out of their houses to take a closer look at the invaders.

Another check point at the southern approach to the town. The citizens are not sure what to make of the Prussian

 Further away from the southern checkpoint, everything is quiet and bacoulic. Wagons deliver grain to the Prussian camp and a man tends to his garden.

To the south of the town there are a number of farmsteads.

A long perspective of the terrain around Hochkirch

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cigar Box Battle Mats - A Great Product

The Prussian encampment at Hochkirch.

I have seen some really good looking wargame tabletop terrain mats at conventions over the past couple of years. They are made by a company called Cigar Box Battle. The mats have images of roads, fields and woods pre-printed onto a cloth material (baize perhaps?). The result is a very realistic game mat that will greatly enhance the look of any game table.

Here are two views of the mats; first, the Before view of just the mats and the After view after I have placed some terrain pieces on top of the mat. The set of trees on the right hand side are located approximately at the place where the two mats are joined together to create one 6ft by 10ft table.

The "Before" picture of the two mats lined up together.

The "After" picture with the addition of my own trees, houses and other terrain pieces.

Click on the link below to go to the company's web store:

I have admired Cigar Box mats for quite awhile but I wasn't sure that I wanted to ditch my existing table mat and start over with a whole new system. My main concern was that with the roads already layed out that it would restrict my games to the particular type of terrain that is on the mat.

However, my recent interest in playing skirmish level wargames made me rethink my stance and I decided to go ahead and buy a pair of mats to use for skirmish games. Once I had a chance to look at these mats first hand on my table, any concerns that I had evaporated. It is an easy matter to lay your own terrain on top of the mat - so if a corn field is in the way, you can simply place a building on top of the field, sprinkle a few bits of lichen on the mat, and then Bob's your uncle, you are good to go.

The mats are available for a variety of figure sizes (such as 10mm, 15mm and 28mm, etc.) I purchased two mats of European terrain that come with wide roads suitable for 28mm figures and vehicles. The mats measure 6ft by 4ft but are actually closer to 6ft by 5ft. As a result, I can put the two halves together and have a 6ft by 10ft table.

The two mats that I bought are called New Europe #510 and New Europe 2 #660 (both with wide roads). The roads and fields are designed to match up with each other for these two selections. I believe that there is also a mat that is all green ground cover without roads and other preprinted terrain areas. You could buy a pair of these if you are concerned about having your games boxed in with what is printed on the mat.

A T-intersection on the mat, graced with a Saxony-style house and a guarded checkpoint.

Downtown Hochkirch at rush hour. The citizens converge on the inn, on the left, for Happy Hour.

Best Features
(1) Ease of transport - In my opinion, the best feature of the mats is that they are easy to roll up or fold up for transport. In fact, folding the mats does not seem to create any fold marks on the mat, which is a big plus. These are light weight compared to my canvas terrain mat and because you can fold them, they will take up so much less room in my car when I am taking a game to a convention.

(2) Realistic appearance - Another feature that I like is the detail and realism of the printed fields, etc. They almost have a 3D effect, so when I look at a ploughed field from afar, it really looks like a 3D ploughed field. Perhaps the best part of this though, is the sense of realism - when you are out driving in the countryside you see variety in the types of field - some have plantings, some are fallow fields at rest without plantings, some green grazing areas, etc. When you put them all together, you see a wonderful mosaic of diverse terrain on your table top, rather than seeing vast areas of unadorned green felt (or in my case, green canvas).

(3) Flexability -  Once you spread your mat over the game table, then place your own terrain pieces on top of the mat. For example, there are obvious places that represent woods, so plop down your trees in that area. For ploughed ground, add a farmer or two. For a fallow field, place a few cows or sheep etc. 

Prussian field bakery. The bakery models hide the underlying ploughed field. You would never know that it was there. 

Another view of the field bakery.

Lots of things are happening inside the Prussian camp.

As you might probably guess by now, I really like my Cigar Box (I like the company's name) mats and plan to use them for both skirmish and larger scale battles. I like my existing terrain system, but the new mats will "up my game" in my opinion.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Croat Samples Painted

A hoard of Croats from Minden Miniatures.

I've been painting samples of Minden product codes so that every item in the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store has a picture of the product. This project has been ongoing and it will keep going for quite awhile as there are hundreds of different figures to paint.

I finished all of the Prussian Jagers last week and so now it is on to the Croats, of which three of the four codes have been painted during the holiday weekend.

Croat command pack

Croats standing pack of firing and loading poses.

Croats advancing pack.

I have the Croats kneeling pack on the painting table right now and expect to finish them today. The four Croat figure packs give me 21 figures already painted, so 3 more rankers and one officer will complete my first Team Austria unit. Later, I will paint a second Croat unit in blue coats, followed by 2 x 12 dismounted Austrian Hussars.

I have been basing the figures singlely on round bases with the idea that I can photograph them and then re-employ them in small skirmish game scenarios. Units will have two companies of 12 figures plus one overall officer. Thus each player will control no more than 25 figures in the game. A game will likely have three players per side, so that works out to about 75 figures per side.

I've been searching for a good set of period skirmish rules and after playing several published rules sets, they not being to my liking, I remembered that I had my own Croat Terror skirmish rules. I haven't used the CT rules in quite awhile, but after thumbing through them, I decided that these would work just fine and that I could easily make a few modifications for the game that I have in mind for next year's Seven Years War Association convention in March 2020.