Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Hesse-Seewald Garde

Suren Prussians IR6 (painted by Der Alte Fritz) - click to enlarge picture

Over the past two years I have been playing an informal campaign with my wargaming pard' Bill Protz, as we developed and play tested his Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or "BAR") rules. Bill has a rather large collection of 30mm Suren, Stadden, Front Rank and Redoubt French that provide the regular opposition to my Prussian army. Bill's wargaming philosophy has been highly influenced by the late Brigadier General Peter Young, as depicted in his classic book "Charge, Or How To Play Wargames" as well as by Charles Grant's "The Wargame." By this I mean that Bill approaches wargaming as a gentlemanly social event, free of rancour, petty rules lawyering and epitomized by fair play and sportsmanship.

Bill Protz Contemplating the Gentlemanly Sport of Thrashing Der Alte Fritz's Prussian Hussars (Staddens) With His 60-figure (Suren & Elite) French Carabinier Regiment. - Click picture to englarge.

One of the delightful tenets of wargaming in the manner of Brigadier Young is to establish fictional countries and antagonists to represent our forces on the table top. One of the reasons for doing this is to eliminate national characteristics, which can lead to arguments over how fast the Prussians can march and shoot compared to the French and Austrians, and things of that ilk. (I like to use the word "ilk". There's something pleasant about the way it sounds). So in the Youngian and Grantian tradition, Bill's French army has become the latinized Army of Gallia while my Prussians stand in for the Army of Germania and its ally, Hesse-Seewald (I simply added "Hesse" to the German words for Lake Forest, which is my home town).

So while we are using fictional countries and armies in our informal campaign, the figures are actually painted, based and organized along the lines of the armies of France, Prussia, Austria (Imperium), Britain (Britannia) and Russia (la Russie). The salient point to take away from all of this is that our fictional countries are grounded in some manner of historical reality in terms of the uniforms, flags and regimental organization. By eliminating national characteristics, our battles are decided by who is the better general that day, or who had better luck getting the right cards at the key moment. BAR rules use a deck of cards to determine movement and firing initiatives on each turn. So you could be a very good general who loses badly for no other reason than the fact that all of the cards went against you. C'est la vie.

The picture shown at the top of the page, above, depicts my Hesse Seewald Garde. In reality they are the Prussian Garde Grenadier (IR6) Battalion of Frederick the Great. I have painted the figures, which are from the Suren Willie range of 30mm SYW figures, as IR6 Prussians. However, instead of Prussian flags, I substituted Hessian flags from GMB Designs. Thus all of my Prussian regiments can serve double duty as either Prussian-flagged battalions or Hessian-flagged battalions, simply by exchanging the standard bearer in each unit. Note that the flags are topped off with finials from Front Rank. I like the flowing cords of the finials. There are a nice little touch. I like things of that ilk. Sometimes, I will use twisted florist's wire to make rope cording and wrap it around the tip of the flag if I have the urge to make my own finials. The flag poles are thus made from brass wire, with the tip pounded flat with a common carpenter's hammer. Then I file a point to the tip - sort of like making a spear, if you will.

The picture in the middle of the page depicts Bill's 60 figure Royal Carabiniers regiment as they prepare to charge into the Prussian Black Hussars of Der Alte Fritz. Bill could have painted all ten squadrons of the Carabiniers, some 110 to 120 figures. But I am forever grateful that he chose the sensible approach and stopped at 5 squadrons or 60 figures. The Royal Carabiniers are comprised largely of figures from the Elite Miniatures SYW range of 28mm French cavalry, as well as some Suren-Willie officers and Front Rank kettle drummers.

This little minuet a cheval occured at the Seven Years War Association Convention in March 2006. Note the look of glee in Bill's eyes as he contemplates the thrashing that his heavy cavalry is about to serve up to my light cavalary.

Some wargamers may find our table top a bit too spartan for their own taste, what with this being the golden age of purpose-built, realistic terrain boards done by such masters as Paul Darnell of Touching History and others of that ilk. Don't get me wrong, I love terrain boards and they are hard to beat. However, we are a bit Old School in that we like our table tops to be relatively plain and simple in the Young and Grant style. This facilitates the movement of large quantities of figures across the table top and puts the focus where we want it: on the figures themselves. I like to add buildings and other terrain pieces by that master craftsman, Herb Gundt, of H.G. Walls, who makes all of my miniature buildings. So we jazz the table top up with our figures and buildings, but leave the surface rather plain and simple.

I've mentioned our "informal campaign" several times in this post. Let me explain what that is. Each army starts a game with the same number of army points, so the forces are comparable in size. The winner of the game gets +5% more figures in the next game. If that player wins a second consecutive game, then he gets +10% more figures in the following game. To make that situation fair, the loser of two games gets a certain amount of walls or other fortifications to use during the game. That in a nutshell, is how our campaign works.

We are experimenting with using the board game "Friedrich" as the basis for our next campaign. The Friedrich game has a very attractive map of central Europe from the French border all the way to Poland in the East; and the Baltic sea and on south to Austria. The movement system in the game is relatively easy to learn, so we plan to use the Friedrich game to move our armies, and where two armies come into contact, a battle will occur. The game incorporates such strategic things as supply depots, lines of communication and other things of that ilk (there's that word again).


  1. It's like reading a new 'Old School Wargaming' book coauthored by Young and Grant! With far, far better painted armies and color photos. Really great!

  2. Great idea in converting Friedrich to your campaign, I will follow that development closely. I must say that there is an attraction to the simplicity of your current system. Is there a point system available in BAR?

    I also like the idea of fictional countries. We tried this years ago with a different period, but a rules lawyer made it rather unplayable.

    P.S. I'm ashamed that I could not work the word "ilk" into this post.

  3. Love that monster unit of carabiniers!

    Best Regards,


  4. I love monster regiments, fictional countries, The Wargame and things "of that ilk". See Iowa, it's easy!

    I will leave a comment later today about the points system that is used in BAR, but must get to work now.

  5. Hi Jim,

    Just dropping you a little note here since I cannot remember my old TMP password:

    We'll be covering Cuirassiers, Dragoons, Chevaulegeres, hussars and Uhlans. I think we have Nic convinced on dismounted Dragoons and generic Hussars in colpack and mirliton (sonds like some skirmish-lebel rules, no?). Kendo the O. is madly agitating for a camp scene with courtesans, parrots, hairdressers, acrobats and jugglers, while I am sensibly and sanely advocating for a fairly generic field bakery.

    The cavalry and dismounted troops all look pretty like getting a green light, while the last items are kind of pie-in-the-sky just now.

    Sorry for the OT comment.


    Greg Horne

  6. Greg: that sounds like great news about the Saxons. A field bakery would be awesome. I think a German flats company called Grunewald makes one. It is illustrated in a catolog that I saw somewhere, maybe at Berlin Zinnfiguren,

  7. Excellent paint jobs! Impressive numbers of troops and cool setup and things of that ilk. ;-)

  8. I shall take a look - I'm searching for illustrations - Greg

  9. Ooooooooo a field Bakery would be great and I love the non-militray accessories, like camp followers etc . . .


  10. wish I could stop the typos :-(