Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Raid on the Field Bakery

Austrian field bakery and bakery wagon (yellow) constructed by Ed Phillips. Town and roads were made by Herb Gundt. Front Rank civilians work at the bakery.

Yesterday we set up my Winter terrain in my basement and staged a scenario involving a Prussian raid on an Austrian field bakery, somewhere in Silesia, possibly at the village of Born, which lies in front of the Austrian battle line at Leuthen. We had gotten about twelve inches of snow over the Christmas weekend so it seemed like an appropriate thing to set up a winter game. Bill Protz, Randy Frye and Keith Leidy joined me in this little skirmish game.

I wanted to do a BAR rules game in a skirmish or small action with just a few troops. The actual table was 6ft by 17ft, so hopefully this would give us plenty of room for maneuvering troops. The opposing forces are shown below:

Prussian Strike Force:
Von Zieten's Command:
5 sqds of hussars (60 figures)
1 horse artillery battery (2 x 6pdrs with 10 crew)
1 battalion of grenadiers
1 battalion of musketeers

Von Kleist's Command
3 sqds of horse dragoons (36 figures)
1 sqds of hussars (12 figures)
1 battery of frei korps artillery (2 x 6pdrs with 10 crew)
1 btn of elite Jagers (48 figures)
1 coy of frei korps jagers (12 figures)
1 btn of von Kleist Kroats

All of the Prussian units were rated as Veteran except for the Elite rated Jagers

Austrian Garrison at Borne
Croat & Light Troops Command (left flank):
1 btn of Croats (72 figures)
1 coy of Austrian jagers (20 figures)
1 battery of Austrian 3-pdrs (with 8 crew)
2 sqds of Hussars

Town Garrison Command (center and right flank)
2 btns of Austrian musketeers
1 coy of light piquets
1 Austrian battery ( 2 x 6pdrs and 1 x 12 pdr and 16 crew)
1 sqd of horse grenadiers serving as an escort for the garrison commander
5 sqds of Saxon dragoons (arriving on turn 3 or 4 , depending on a die roll)

Field bakeries were often set up ahead of the arrival of the army. The engineers would lay out the boundaries of the army encampment, a day or two before the army actually arrived on site. At the same time, the traveling field bakeries were set up so that they could commence the production of bread to feed the army. So one can imagine that the field bakeries might have been vulnerable to a quick raid by the enemy. If the bakery were destroyed ahead of the army's arrival into camp, that could put a serious crimp on the supply of the army.

Here is an overview of the table, showing the Austrian right flank in the foreground, the village of Borne in the center background, and the Austrian left flank near the windmill hill.

The Prussian players were given a handful of yellow cards and instructed to write the name of each unit under their command on a card. They were given several spare cards to be used as "dummy cards" with no unit on it to provide some disinformation or fog of war for the Austrians. The Prussians began the game by setting their cards on the table in lieu of their actual figures. The Austrian players could only guess as to what units might be listed on the cards. So they had no idea of the forces that were descending upon the town of Born.

The Prussians were given two free moves to start the game so that they could maneuver and sneak up on the town's garrison. On Turn 3, the Austrian players had a 50% chance of activating their units with a D6 die roll (odd number - they don't activate; even number - they do activate). In the event that a Prussian unit moved within 16" of an Austrian unit, then the Austrian unit could automatically activate.

Prussian jager surge over the hill and begin to engage the Croats and Austrian jagers that were guarding the left flank of the table. You can see that some of the Austrians are dug into wolf pits for added protection.

Prussian Zieten Hussars attack part of the Austrian camp and zero in on the Austrian artillery battery, hoping to take it out before it can fire and do any damage to the attackers.

Prussian musketeers (IR19 Margraf Karl) attack the other portion of the Austrian camp. The Austrian infantry have just been activated and are considered disordered until they have time to form up.

Von Kleist horse grenadiers/dragoons overwhelm the Austrian 3-pdr battery defending the field bakery.

It was a bad day for the Austrian artillery as the Zieten Hussars (Stadden figures) cut down the Austrian crew manning the guns in front of the tent encampment in the center of the table.

Von Kleist captures the town of Borne and sets up a battery of 6pdrs to control the approaches to the town, in case the Austrians counter-attack. They did not.

Saxon von Bruhl cavalry arrive on the Austrian right flank and attempt to push back the von Ruesch or Black Hussars.

I think that we played about seven or eight turns, including the first two turns where only the Prussians were allowed to move. At the end of Turn 8, the von Kleist Kroats had captured the village and were preparing to blow up the field bakery. The two tent camps had been over run by Prussian infantry and the tents were set on fire. Clearly, the Prussians had achieved all of their objectives and were declared the winners.

This scenario shows that Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or "BAR" for short) work well for smaller scale raids and skirmish level games. The scenario would probably have worked well had I deducted one more battalion of infantry from each side's forces. Each player could be assigned a command of one battalion of infantry, 2-3 squadrons of light cavalry, and a battery of light artillery if you wish to reduce the roster of troops even more.

I might want to tinker with the rules for activating the Austrian infantry forces. They nearly waited too long to activate, as the Prussian infantry was nearly in their camp before they could get started. That is sort of the effect that I wanted to achieve. The Austrians did benefit from a nice run of cards that gave them the initiative on most of the turns after Turn 3.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Tidings to All

We had a very nice Christmas here in Hesse Seewald. You can see a picture of our Yule Tree after the Princess has sorted out all of her packages and stashed them off-camera for quicker opening. She has package opening down to a science.

I received some nice books including Adrian Goldsworthy's How Rome Fell and Don Troiani's book Soldiers of the American Revolution to stoke my wargaming interests even further. The Goldworthy book has proven to be very interesting as I can hardly put the thing down after skimming a few sections here and there. The Troiani book will be most helpful once I start painting our new Fife & Drum AWI figures in early 2011.

The Princess got the laptop computer that she had been saving for over the past year. She was a few dollars short of having enough funds to make the purchase, so we bought it for her using her own funds, supplemented with some of our own cash. Now the Princess has a better computer than we do. The Wife received an iPad from me so it was quite a "tech-y day" for the household this Christmas day. One good thing about this is that now I can access our family computer and do more blogging without having to surrender my time to the other family members. That is a definite win-win outcome.

Later in the afternoon, we filled Mallard Hall with fourteen guests and relatives and had a grand old time. It was very cold and snowy outside, but I kept the fireplace stoked with logs all day and it was very comfortable sitting near the fire and reading bits of Goldsworthy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From Hesse Seewald

The Erbprinz Friedrich, Princezin Katherine, and the Hesse Seewald General Staff wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy 1761. (click or double click picture to enlarge)

The Erbprinz Friedrich of Hesse Seewald assembled his general staff for a portrait drawing to celebrate Christmas and the coming new year. The Erbprinz thanks all of the visitors to his realm, over the past year, and wishes all of his friends and followers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year in 1761.

The ducal terrain was constructed by that renowned architect, Herb "Capability" Gundt. The Erbprinz and Princezin were outfitted by Mr. Suren, the hussar general von Zieten by Mr. Stadden, and everyone else by Mr. Morbey (save for the splendid ADC in the red coat, via the Foundry). The Bosniaks in the background, on escort duty, are Crusader figures on Ebob horses.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Der Other Fritz's Birthday

The Erbprinz von Hesse Seewald greets his troops on his birthday.

Yesterday, December 18th, I celebrated the passing of another birthday, my 58th one on this planet. I had hoped to get in a little bit of painting time, but with errands, Christmas shopping and waiting for the heating repairman to put in a new humidifier in the basement (lots of banging of sheet metal just a few feet away from my painting table), events seemed to conspire against me and I didn't get much time at the painting table.

I did finish off two more stands of Minden Austrian grenadiers, bringing my converged battalion up to 24 figures (2 stands of red-facing figures, 2-stands of blue-facing figures). I am working on two more stands of 6 figures in pink or rose facings to represent the Regiment de Ligne. I hope to have them completed within a couple more days.

Deliveries from the UK to the USA seem to be all discombobulated lately. I have three different orders posted to me in November and 3-4 weeks later there have been no pleasant surprises in my mail box, much to my regret. My understanding is that the Royal Mail got all backed up with the snow-related delays, and then add in the usual deluge of Christmas mail, and you have a recipe for extremely slow delivery. I am resigned to not seeing anything for a couple more weeks - if we get into mid January with nothing, then I might start to get concerned.

The weather has been very cold here in Hesse Seewald, staying between 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, versus the average temperature of about 35 degrees F for this time of year. We decided to make lemonade out of lemons, weather wise, and headed down the street to a steep slope, where we (the Princess and Mrs. Fritz) did a little bit of downhill sledding. It was more like getting on a luge run, with our little sled and icy surface, but we had fun, and then afterwards, made some hot cocoa and sat by a roaring fire in the fireplace. Not a bad way to tackle a cold winter day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some Progress Is Made

Minden Austrians painted in 2009. Not the grenadiers, but close enough.

What does one do on a cold dreary winter day when the weather outside is frightful, and one's football team is decidedly not delightful? Why you retreat to the painting table in the basement, put a Mozart CD on the player, and break out some Minden SYW figures to paint.

I had hoped to settle in on my cosy sofa, next to the warm fire in the fireplace, and watch the Chicago Bears play the evil New England Patriots. Alas, it was not to be as the score was 33-0 in favor of the Bad Guys at halftime. Now Der Alte Fritz didn't get to be Alte without learning a thing or two, so he gave up on the football game and pitched into 12 Austrian grenadiers that he needed to complete a 24-figure battalion of converged grenadiers. I think that I might also prime another 6 or 12 grenadiers this evening so that I can increase the grenadier battalion to at least 30 figures, which would be on par with the size of my other battalions.

It occurred to me that I am running out of time if I wish to have my Minden Project Austrian and Prussian armies ready for their debut at this coming year's Seven Years War Association convention, circa March 28-30, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. The Prussians are ready for battle with 9 battalions of infantry, four spendid Berlin Zinnfiguren 12-pounders and crew, and a regiment of dragoons and hussars.

The Austrians, so far, only have 3 battalions of Mindens (but I have 2 of my old RSM battalions available if I rebase them) and 4 BZ artillery pieces and crew. I will have to use my old RSM Austrian cavalry as stand ins until I can get some Minden Austrian cavalry painted, later in 2011. Assuming that I can paint 60 infantry figures per month, that would two battalions of 30 (or one regiment) that I have to finish in January and another two battalions to complete in February. YIKES! That is cutting the time line a little too close for comfort.

Hmm, I can see that there is still much work to be done and no doubt I will be distracted and diverted from the SYW project once the Fife & Drum AWI figures start coming out of the production moulds in January.

Friday, December 10, 2010

AWI British Light Company Officer

Light infantry company officer. (click pix to enlarge)

I forgot to post these pictures of the British Light Company officer from our new Fife & Drum Miniatures range of AWI figures. I'm afraid that he got lost in all of the excitement last week with the arrival of the American Militia greens.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leuthen Day - December 5, 1757

Frederick the Great addresses his general before the Battle of Leuthen

I nearly forgot that today marks the anniversary of Frederick the Great's signature victory at the Battle of Leuthen on December 5, 1757 (Bless him!).

More later -- I have to put up the family Christmas tree right now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More American Militia Greens

Militia man in tricorne hat and blanket roll on back, at the ready

Here are pictures of four more of the American Militia greens that Richard Ansell sent to me the other day. As before, there is a nice mix of tricorne and floppy hats and blanket roll styles (tumpline on the back or worn across the shoulder).

250,000 Visitors!
Probably some time on Saturday or Sunday, we will have passed the 250,000 visitor milestone on the Der Alte Fritz Journal. We were about 500 hits short of that number at 7PM this evening. Thank you to everyone for your support of my blog - your comments and enthusiasm for what I do keeps me going.

Militia man walking - I like the rakish upturn of the brim of the hat

Militia man standing firing

Militia man cocking his firelock

Thursday, December 2, 2010

AWI American Militia - Fife & Drum Miniatures

American Militia Officer in tricorne hat

I received photos of the first eight American Militia poses from Richard Ansell today and I have to say that once again, his work continues to amaze me. I love the facial expression on the officer in the picture above and his pose is very handy to use in a number of vignettes that have popped into my mind. Today's posting will feature four of the greens and then I will post the next four on friday evening, so that no one gets the vapors from all of the excitement. I know that they have that effect on me.

We also decided on a name for our venture: Fife & Drum Miniatures. The name evokes the American Revolution (think about the famous "Spirit of '76" painting) as well as "horse and musket" historical periods in general. I would imagine that one day, after we get the AWI range completed, we might be interested in adding other historical eras to the range.

The fellow in the next picture below is shown in a floppy brimmed hat, but at the last minute, I asked Richard to change his headgear to a tricorne hat so that we would have four greens in tricornes and four in floppy hats. After looking at these militia figures, I have to say that I am tempted to add some Butler's Rangers and Iroquois warriors so that our figures could be used for skirmish games on the New York frontier.

American Militia at the ready - we changed his headgear to a tricorne though

American Militia in tricorne hats - standing firing

American Militia in hats - kneeling firing

The final two sets of pictures depict a militia man standing firing and kneeling firing. I think that Richard does an excellent job of providing such a natural looking pose for both of the firing figures. In fact, his firing figure poses are often my favorites in his other ranges.

Tomorrow's posting of pictures will include militia advancing (tricorne), militia advancing (hat, but a different pose than the tricorne version), another standing firing (but in hat) and a fellow cocking the musket (wearing hat). I also have two more British light infantry men to show you.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RSM Austrians Dragoons

Austrian dragoon regiments Kolowrat (blue), Savoyen (red) and a converged regiment of horse grenadiers. Figures are all RSM figures, formerly from my own collection, originally painted by Bill Biles. I added four more dragoons to the two dragoon regiments to increase the regiment to 24 figures. Click the picture to enlarge the view.

I recently finished rebasing two regiments of RSM Austrian Dragoons for one of my clients and so these units will be passing on to a new inhaber. Hopefully they will serve their new colonel as well as they did for me. The blue coated dragoons are the Kolowrat Dragoons and the red coated dragoons are the Savoyen Dragoons. The third unit is a converged group of horse grenadiers from five different regiments.

The client asked me to increase the size of the dragoon regiments from 20 figures to 24 figures (see if you can spot the newly painted additions in each regiment) and to rebase the figures from two per stand to a more tightly packed in three per stand. Finally, I rebased and reterrained everything using fine railroad ballast and static grass. The end result is quite pleasing to the eye, if I do say so myself.

I noticed that we are closing in on 250,000 visitors to this blog. So we ought to hit this milestone within a couple of days, even fewer if I post more pictures of Richard Ansell's exquisite AWI greens. The traffic has more than doubled on the days that I post pictures of the new figures, which is quite a testament to the work that Richard did on these figures.

We will be fighting our annual Light Troop SYW Game next weekend in DeKalb at Schloss Frye. Every year, we have a game in December that is comprised of only light infantry and light cavalry so as to get more of a skirmish level game with lots of room for maneuvering. I will have to take some pictures of Lady de Winter's band of Regulators, Garde du Corps and Bosniak lancers, all comprising her notorious Black Legion of Doom -- and post them on this blog before the game on Saturday December 4, 2010.

I also have a few more Ansell sculpts to show this week. So stay tuned for more eye candy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Even More AWI British Light Infantry Figures

British Light Company Man Advancing (click all pix to enlarge the view)

Rear view of the same figure above.

Here are two more picture sets of the British Light Company soldiers that were sculpted by Richard Ansell. The advancing figure shown above would look particularly good "en masse" in the event that you want to build one of the converged light company battalions in a sort of conventional battle mode, rather than with all manner of figures in skirmish poses. Once I have the figures on hand, I will probably paint two battalions: one in skirmish mode and the other with all advancing figures plus officers, NCOs and musicians.

British Light Company Man Kneeling Firing

Same figure as above, but showing the view from the rear.

Next we have the light company man kneeling and firing. I like the way that Ansell sculpts figures in firing poses - they look so natural and elegant. I can just picture a hand full of these figures, three per stand, in various skirmish poses, behind cover (rocks, trees, tall grass, etc.). One could really get creative with these animated poses (see my pictures of the Minden SYW Croats to see what I'm talking about).

Tomorrow night I will post the final two British light infantry figures consisting of an officer figure and another advancing poses.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More AWI Light Infantry & Comparisons

British Light Company Man standing firing
British Light Company man - rear view

Here is another one of the British light company figures that Richard Ansell sculpting for our new AWI range of figures. This is one of my favorite figures because the figure seems so natural in his pose and it is visually very elegant.

Several people on TMP asked for some comparative photos of our figures and some samples from the Perry, Eureka and Front Rank ranges, all of which are very nice figures, with each having its own unique style. In the first set of pictures below, I have placed a Eureka Ragged Continental, a Perry AWI Hessian Officer, and a Minden SYW Prussian Officer (a proxy for the Ansell-sculpted AWI figures) on the review stand together. The Perry figure is 1-2 millimeters taller than the Eureka and Minden figures, but the difference does not seem to be significant. In the second picture, I added a shim (using a US Penny) to the Minden figure to bring it up to the same height as the slightly taller Perry figure. This is a little trick that I use in my 1:10 ratio BAR armies for the SYW whenever I want to use figures that are a little shorter than the rest of my 30mm figures. Once you cover the shim with basing material, the difference will not be noticeable.

Eureka (left), Perry (centre) and Minden (right)

Same figures as previous picture, but with a shim (US Penny) added to the Minden figure to add another millimeter to its height in comparison with the other two figures.

I think that the pictures above indicate that the three ranges, Eureka, Perry and Ansell can all be used together on the same table top, with little discernable difference, as long as you don't mix ranges into the same unit.

Hinchcliffe X-Range (left), RSM (centre) and Minden (right) figures are very compatible in terms of height and the heft or build of the torsos. Both the Hinchcliffe and the RSM figures were sculpted by the late Steve Hezzlewood back in the 1980s.

The final line up of figures showing all six AWI ranges (from left to right): Hinchliffe, RSM, Minden, Perry, Eureka and Front Rank. You will need to click this picture for a closer view.

I think that the final picture, above, illustrates that one can use a variety of figures in the same army. In some cases, you might be able to mix in a figure or two from one range into the other without a discernable difference. Any more than that, it starts to become noticeable, in my humble opinion. I am not averse to using different ranges of figures in my BAR SYW armies, it is just that I do not mix brands into discrete units unless I need a specific figure that nobody else produces.

I will post some more pictures Sunday night or on Monday so that you can see the rest of the British Light Infantry poses that are completed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

AWI British Light Infantry

British Light Company man loading his musket. Front and rear views

I was going to wait a few more days before posting more pictures of Richard Ansell's greens for the British Light Company figures in skirmishing poses, but I know that a lot of my readers are chomping at the bit, as it were, to see more pictures. So I will tease you with a couple of pictures every other day until I run through the 8 poses that we have for the light company men.

Light infantry musician with horn - front view

Light infantry musician with horn - rear view. Note the difference in the metal canteen compared to the wooden "St. Bernard Flask" used by the Guards (see previous posting)

Richard kindly provided me with a picture that compares three different figures in the 28mm-30mm range so that you can see how the new AWI sculpts stand up to other ranges of figures.

Size does make a difference, or does it? Comparative figures depict a HaT Napoleonic figure, a Perry plastic dragoon (centre) and one of Richard Ansell's sculpts for our AWI range of figures. All three figures are of a comparable height, but it is the thickness or heft of the figure that makes each one distinctive from the other.

The left hand figure is one of the Hat plastics and the middle one is a Perry plastic for comparison. The castings from the green will be about 1mm shorter, losing about .5mm in the master mould and .5mm again in the production mould.

The cast figures will be about 30mm to the top of the head (not the hat!) or 28mm to the eye if you want to measure them like that. 30mm to the top of the head/28mm to the eye seems pretty much the norm nowadays, these just happen to be rather slimmer than average.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The British Are Coming!

Brigade of Guards NCO - Center Company

And now for something completely different: the Brigade of Guards in the AWI, circa 1777 during the Philadelphia Campaign. These are the first of what will be an extensive range of 1/56 scale (approximately 30mm) figures designed by Richard Ansell, who is well known for his realistic and lifelike sculpting style, as seen in his designs for the Minden Miniatures SYW and the Alban Miniatures Napoleonic figure ranges.

Our objective is to provide a comprehensive range of figures in this style to portray the British army in campaign uniforms, circa the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign and their American Continental and militia adversaries. The British soldiers will be wearing campaign uniforms: cut down coats, round hats turned up at one side, trousers or gaitor-trousers, and minimal marching kit. These will not be depicting the 1768 Warrant uniform found in nearly every AWI range. In other words, these British soldiers will look like the real deal.

For those of you who are familiar with Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures range of figures, you will already know that these figures will not necessarily be compatible with Front Rank, Old Glory, Perry Miniatures or various other ranges that are already on the market. They won't need to be compatible, because we are going to provide everything that you will need to fight the AWI in the 1776-1777 period.

Over time, we will add British regulars and light infantry, Highlanders, artillery crew and limbers and guns for both sides, mounted dragoons and mounted officers for His Majesty's Forces. The American army will be similarly covered in equal depth. We might even add French regulars after we complete the British and Americans.

My own reason for getting involved in this new venture is that I believe that Richard Ansell is the premier sculptor in the hobby today and his sculpting style checks off all of the boxes when it comes down to what I look for in a wargame figure: realistic, well proportioned, animated figures with a life like appearance. That being the case, I wanted to have a comprehensive range of Ansell-sculpted figures for my own use and gratification. If I wanted an obscure figure such as the flank company soldier in the British Brigade of Guards, then I could simply commission the sculpting of such a figure and add it to my own army.

At the present time, Richard has completed the first 16 figures, comprised of 8 poses for the Brigade of Guards and 8 British Light Infantry in skirmishing poses. Next in the que will be American militia in skirmishing poses so that you can start collecting opposing forces suitable for skirmish wargame rules, such as Sharpe Practice, etc.

I expect that the first figures will be cast and ready for purchase in January 2011 and then we will continue to add new figures every couple of months.

The figures will be sold under the "Battleroad Games & Hobbies" brand name - a new on-line venture based in Marlborough, Massachusetts

The company is a seller of miniatures and hobby related supplies and accessories, but the AWI figures will be its own proprietary range of figures.

Please take some time to browse through the pictures below, and be sure to click on the picture to enlarge the view. Later this week, I will post pictures of the British Light Infantry in skirmishing poses. I will also post comparative pictures of Minden (also sculpted by Mr. Ansell), Perry, RSM, Hinchcliffe X-Range, Scruby, Old Glory and Front Rank so that you can make your own judgement, based on pictorial evidence. Most of these figures are 30mm +/- a millimeter or two. So their height will be compatible. On the other hand, some figures will appear chunkier, others thinner, but ultimately you will have to make your own decision as to whether or not they are compatible with other brands. But as I indicated earlier, my goal is to blaze my own trail and not try to copycat other figure ranges.

Guards Flank Company Man Marching

Guards Flank Company Officer

Guards Center Company Man Marching

Guards Center Company Man Standing Firing (note wood water cask and detail of coat tails which have been cut back)

Brigade of Guards Officer

Guards Center Company Man Cocking Musket

Brigade of Guards Drummer