Monday, March 29, 2010

My Minden Prussian Brigade

The whole brigade as seen from one of Monsieur Montgolfier's hot air balloons.

IR5 Alt Braunschweig with Minden Miniatures.

IR5 Alt Braunschweig in the front rank and IR1 Winterfeldt in the second line.

I finished the basing of the second battalion of IR5 Alt Braunschweig last evening and so I now have a nice brigade of Minden Prussians: 4 musketeer battalions, 1 grenadier battalion, 1 jager battalion, 3 artillery crews and 12 Bayreuth Dragoons. click on all of the pictures for a larger view of my Prussian brigade so far.

Closer view of IR5 and supporting artillery.

They look pretty nifty en masse, don't you think? I particularly like the effect of two flags per battalion and four for the entire regiment. The long ranks and the GMB Designs Flags really enhance the overall look of the brigade. The marching pose and the furling flags really seem to give the appearance of everything in motion.

Once April turns the corner, I will have to take a temporary time out from the Mindens and paint 24 Elite Miniatures SYW British Dragoon Guards for our BAR Fontenoy game at Little Wars, at the end of April. Then I will pick up the brushes again and paint IR13 Itzenplitz (2 btns), which would get me to the end of Phase I of my Prussian Minden army. I might switch over to Minden Austrians at that time and build them up to eight battalions. Then go back and forth between the two armies until I get 12 battalions and 4 cavalry regiments completed for each side. The goal is to have enough of an army to run a game at next year's SYW Association convention in March 2011.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SYW Assn Convention Update

Panoramic view of my Leuthen convention game. Terrain by HG Walls. Table mats by "The Terrain Guy" - the mats were awesome!

Click the Pix to Enlarge the View

I am posting some pictures of the various games that took place at this weekend's Seven Years War Association Convention in South Bend, Indiana on March 26th and 27th, 2010. I will post separate entries later in the week covering my Mollwitz and Leuthen games, but for now, feast your eyes on a nice variety of games (including a few teasers of my Leuthen game, which covered three 24 foot tables). I used The Terrain Guy winter game mats for the surface, and I must say that I was very pleased with the way he executed the mixing of dark brown coloring to break up the white pattern of the snow. It looked very realistic. I had custom sized mats of 6ft by 24ft and two mats of 3ft by 24 ft to use on the back tables.

Leuthen village (by HG Walls) from Der Alte Fritz's collection.

Prussian guard grenadiers lead the assault of the Leuthen churchyard, held by the Rot Wurzburg regiment.

Austrians deploy inside the town of Leuthen. Nice view of some of HG Walls' handicraft with the buildings, roads, trees and even a street sign post.

Austrian left flank at Leuthen, protected by hussars and a lot of infantry.

Dean West's 15mm Freiburg town.

More of Dean West's realistic 15mm terrain.

Dean West's Battle of Freiburg, in progress.

Paul Petri's 10mm Paper Terrain village for his Battle of Warburg game.

Petri's 10mm Battle of Warburg game in progress. I wanted to play in this game, but I was busy setting up my Leuthen game when this one started. Very nice looking game.

Steve Page's FIW fortress game.

"A Cow Too Far" skirmish game by the Johnston brothers.

A SYW Naval Game - Battle on The Great Lakes- hosted by Jeff Knudsen using paper ships. It looked like this was a fast and fun game that everyone seemed to be enjoying. I wish that I could have played in it.

Tod Kershner's famous "Iroquois Terror" game. This time it's in 54mm! There is Tod in the grey shirt. He's also the author of "Age of Reason" rules. That's co-author Dale Wood in the red shirt.

French sortie from the fort - 54mm plastic figures - Iroquois Terror.

Another view of the 54mm fort. This is what it looks like, right out of the box, nicely painted.

Todd Fisher's "Revolution to Empire" rules depicting the battle of Gross Jagersdorf in the SYW (15mm game).

Pete Panzeri's 28mm Swedes & Ottomans vs Russians

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Minden Jagers Part II

Minden Prussian Jagers finished off with inked turf and static grass. Click pix to enlarge.

Last evening I completed the basing and terraining of my Minden Prussian Jagers and as you can see from the pictures, they turned out rather nicely. I am very pleased with the outcome. I have posted a few shots of the unit from various angles and wanted to get these posted before I head out to South Bend on thursday for this year's Seven Years War Association Convention. The convention runs from Friday morning through Saturday night, so if you happen to be in the area on one of those days, please feel free to drop in and see what it is all about. The convention site is the Downtown Ramada Inn, recognizeable from afar because it is in the tallest building in the downtown area. We are on the sixth floor in the Oak Room.

Side view of the whole battalion of 24 figures.

Prussian Jagers defend the stone wall - at Fredericksburg?

Two stands of jagers in open order.

The "Tree Group" of stands.

I will be running two Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") games at the SYWA convention, one on Friday afternoon and another on Saturday afternoon. Both games will feature winter terrain on terrain mats made to order by The Terrain Guy and buildings, trees, roads and hills by Herb Gundt of HG Walls in South Bend, Indiana. I am looking forward to seeing how the terrain pieces match up with the winter mat. It should be quite something to see. I will post pictures on Sunday, after I return from the convention.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Minden Prussian Jagers

Minden Miniatures Prussian Jagers painted by Der Alte Fritz (click to enlarge).

I went on a painting blitz over the weekend and polished off a 24-figure unit of Minden Prussian Jagers. In all fairness though, at least 4 or 5 of them were samples that I had started on last week and so they were near completion. However, I don't count them as "almost completed", but rather they earn the rank of "completed" when the figures are actually done.

Let me say that I had a blast painting these Prussian jagers. The animation and sense of motion that the figures have really inspired me to keep my brushes moving in a record time. The range has 8 different figures: officer, NCO pointing, musician with horn, standing and kneeling firing, standing and kneeling loading or at the ready, and one standing advancing figure.

The posing of the figures stirs the creative juices too, when it comes to basing the finished figures for wargame use. The two kneeling figures (firing and loading) are naturals for placing behind some cover. The standing firing figure can also be based with his rifle resting on some object for support, in the case below, a tree branch.

Single rank of figures showing the terrain details using bits of tree twigs, sisal and rock.

I cut up some twigs that I found in the front yard and sawed three pieces into small miniature logs, which I piled up and glued together with super glue. I placed a jager kneeling/firing behind this log pile. The standing/firing jager was placed behind a tree, again made from a twig from the yard. I measure the distance of the figure where his rifle rested on the crook of the tree and sawed off the twig to measure. Then, I filed the bottom of the twig flat and drilled a hole in the twig and inserted a metal pin (from a left over piece of a North Star metal spear that I had saved in my "bits box"). I then sank another drill hole into the base of the stand. This provides the tree with extra strength so that it can survive any rough handling. The metal pin connects the twig to the MDF wooden base for more support.

A close up view of the "twig group" of figures. I like the jager kneeling behind the tree stump (click pix to enlarge),

For basing, I used a piece of precut MDF board from a company called Georgo Bases. The dimension used was 60mm by 30mm deep. This is just right for placing three of the Minden jagers and still having some room left for mini-diorama building on the base. The 60mm frontage also corresponds to the frontage of my "formed battalions" which measure 60mm by 40mm, as recommended in the Black Powder rules. I went back and forth over the idea of using 2 figures on a smaller base or 3 figures on a bigger base. In the end, I liked the idea of "open order" troops having the same frontage as line troops, but less depth and fewer figures (3 instead of 6 formed figures). Thus the frontages match up, but at a glance I can easily tell if the unit is formed or able to skirmish or operate in loose, open order.

A close up view of the rock wall

I also decided that I wanted to place some of the jagers behind a stone wall of sorts. So when I walked the dogs this morning, I carried along a bag for rock collecting and came home with a nice assortment of rocks. Note: resist the temptation to collect larger rocks, use only the small ones. At 1/56 scale, even the smallest chip of rock will seem like a boulder. I chose some rocks and layed them out in wall formation, looking for some nice fits. Once I had enough rocks, I then glued them together with PVC or Elmer's Glue (the white glue). Later, I would push some spackle compound between some of the cracks in the rocks for added strength.

The figure bases were covered with a goop mixture of pre-mixed spackel compound that I bought at the local hardware store. To this, I throw in a little pot of Howard Hues "Rifle Butt" brown acrylic paint and mix it up until it looks like chocolate mousse or pudding. Then I slather the goop all over the stands, using a tiny artists' palette knife for a trowel. If I want to add any tall grass at this point, then I snip some sisal strands from a kitchen scrub brush and push the sisal strands into the goop. It helps if you build up a mound of spackle on the base in the place where you intend to insert the sisal. The mound of goop provides more depth and support for the sisal. I then dip the base into a pot of fine railroad ballast, from Woodlands Scenics.

Once everything dries, usually within a couple of hours, I will than dab on brown ink and leave a few patches of uninked gravel showing through. I will then dab on white glue in various spots and then sprinkle static grass onto the base. Let it dry overnight. Once everything is dry, I will go back with some watered down green paint and touch up the sisal so that it looks like tall green grass.

A front view of the whole group. Tomorrow I will ink the bases with brown, then dry brush some tan over the surface, then finally, add the static grass. So these bases are halfway done, as of tonight.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Near Disaster In The Basement

You might recall that I spent a good part of Christmas Day bailing water out of my basement and waiting for the arrival of the plumber. He replaced the sump pump with a new one and I figured that after that, everything was all tickety-boo.

Oh no it's not!

Oh yes it is, I thought.

I was wrong.

This afternoon I walked down into my basement all fired up and ready to paint some more Minden Miniatures, when to my horror, I saw the dreaded dark stain of water on the carpet. Yes, water was seeping into the basement again. I hurried over to the side room where the furnace and sump pump are located, so that I could check on the pump. The furnace room was flooded with a couple inches of water, so I knew that the pump and the back up pump were not operating. I figured that it had to be the battery.

John the Plumber, who is becoming one of my best friends now, answered the emergency call. In fact, he was the same fellow who fixed things on Christmas Day. After a few minutes of tinkering around, he announced that the sump pump battery tender was out of juice, so it couldn't keep the main battery juiced up, which meant that the motors on the pumps weren't working. He gave me a replacement battery and said that it would probably run for only 4 hours. The store was closed so he couldn't get a replacement battery tender. So I went over to the Big Orange Box DIY Store and bought a 25 amp battery tender. Soon the sump pump was cooking like gas.

By midnight, things were pretty much under control. The pump was working, the water in the furnace room was going down, and water finally stopped seeping in under the walls. So I am crossing my fingers that things will continue to operate as expected and that I will not see any water on the floor when I wake up in the morning.

I didn't lose much to water damage. Most of my wargaming items are stored on shelves in another room in the basement. It received some water too, but most boxes were high off the floor. I had to throw out a lot of cardboard boxes that had been holding things such as unpainted castings, paint bottles and other impedimentia of wargaming. So nothing serious.

I'm off to bed now. The fans are running in the basement, and I will probably go back to the Big Orange Box DIY store and buy a dehumidifier and another fan so that I can dry out the basement.

Friday evening, I did manage to finish the second group of six Front Rank Austrians marching so that the Botta Regiment now has 60 figures. That will be the extent of my weekend painting as I will undoubtedly be working on the clean up phase of this disaster.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Convention Preparations

This evening I finally returned to the basement to do a little bit of painting after taking a few days off. It has been busy the office of late and I needed a little R&R painting in order to wind down the stress. I painted six Front Rank SYW Austrian musketeers and one Front Rank casualty figure all in one evening. I had been planning on building up some of my 54 figure Austrian battalions to 60 figures, so that all of my Austrians and Prussians are at the same strength.

I only have two Front Rank battalions (Botta and MacGuire regiments, in blue and red facings, respectively) so I only need a total of 12 figures to get the job done. The two battalions are in a firing line formation with the front row kneeling ready to receive cavalry and the second row is in the standing firing position. Since FR does not make an Austrian fusiliers standing at the ready or loading, the only option for the third rank is to use officers, drummers, standard bearers and a few marching poses to fill out the row. So I was painting Austrians in the march attack pose. For some reason, this is one of my LEAST FAVORITE poses in the Austrian range. No matter what I do, I just can't make these figures look very good (at least by my own standards).

So it was a bit of a grind getting the six MacGuire fusiliers (red facings) completed, but in this I was successful. Tomorrow night I will paint the six Botta regiment figures (blue facings) and then the battalions are completed. I will then have to add 12 more Crusader Austrian musketeers to complete the two Crusader battalions that I have (Deutschmeister and de Ligne).

The casualty figure was more fun to paint than the march attack pose. I have ten more dead Austrians to paint before the SYWA convention in two weeks. This should be easy to do. On the topic of casualty figures, I have a box of Minden dead figures zooming across the Atlantic to me, even as we speak. I am amazed at how quickly Frank Hammond turns orders around. His customer service is top notch.

After the Austrians are done, I want to resume painting Minden figures. They are a joy to paint, in contrast to the chore of painting the chunky looking Front Rank figures. I have 12 of the Bayreuth Dragoons finished and have another 8 figures primed and ready to paint. I hope to have all 30 figures finished by the end of the month.

I was looking at the SYWA list of participation games, and I see that Paul Petri is hosting two Black Powder games. I am eager to give the rules a try so I want to play in Paul's game on friday morning. I am hosting either Mollwitz or the assault on Leuthen Churchyard on Friday afternoon, so I should be able to fit the Black Powder game into my schedule.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SYW Assn Convention - 2005 Flashback

The Battle of Kolin 1757 - Der Alte Fritz is in the center (blue shirt) presiding over his participation game. Fellow BAR Group wargamer, Earl Kyle, is the distinguished looking gentleman on the right (my left) in the dark long-sleeved shirt. I can't identify the other players.

This morning I was surfing the Internet and happened to find the web site for this year's Seven Years War Association Convention, on March 26 to 27, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. The site also has a picture gallery of past convention games. I was rather surprised to see many pictures of the Kolin game that I hosted that year.

Here is a view of the game tables as set up to start the game, before the action commenced.

I made my own terrain boards using 2 foot square ceiling tiles as the basic board, since I knew that they would be perfectly square. I used the game maps from the Clash of Arms "Kolin" board game as my template, converting each hex to the ground scale that I would use in my game. In this manner, I was able to create a fairly accurate portrayal of the Kolin battlefield. I had also visited the site during the 1994 Christopher Duffy Tour, so I also had a lot of photographs to draw on for inspiration.

I added offcuts of insulation foam for the hills, including about three or four "wedding cake style" layers for the larger hills. Then I slathered everything with spackel compound, mixed with brown paint. The final step was to apply the flock with scenic cement from Woodlands Scenics. The villages were all made by Herb Gundt of H.G. Walls and the trees were K&M trees that Tony Adams mounted on MDF wood bases, which he also painted and flocked to a high standard.

This was probably one of the best looking terrain layouts that anyone ever brought to the SYWA convention, but "Best in Show" went to ... Bill Protz and his spectacular French & Indian War game with big battalions of 50 to 60 figures. Bill's game was set up next to mine, and I have to admit that I kept peeking over at his table to look at his appealing forces and table scenics, so his was an award that was well deserved.

After the games, Bill and I sat down together and talked about how we might use his rules system for fighting European theatre battles in the SYW. I was truly enamored with the idea of fighting the SYW with big battalions. And that is how the Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or BAR) rules were born. Over the course of the rest of 2005, spring through fall, we built up our forces and play tested the concepts until we had a workable set of rules for the SYW. Then, a number of us in the gaming group encouraged Bill to publish the rules and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here is a picture of the game in progress. The Prussian advance guard attack on their left is shown at the bottom of this picture. In the immediate center is the Oak Wood and Krechor village (next to the gentleman in the dark shirt). The Kaiserstrasse can be seen on the separate back table.

The main game table was six feet wide by 24 feet long. I also had a back table that was 2 feet wide and 24 feet long. The back table held the Kaiserstrasse, the paved road that Frederick's Prussians used to march around the Austrian right flank at Krechor village.

Here is Zieten's advance guard cavalry brigade with three regiments (20 figures each) in the front line and one dragoon and one hussar regiment in the second line. To their right, just at the table edge, are the grenadier battalions of the advance guard as they move towards the Oak Wood.

The wargame units in this game were using a 1:30 ratio with 28mm figures, largely RSM figures, but also a smattering of Foundry, Dixon and Old Glory figures. The infantry and cavalry regiments were largely 20 figure units, or about 600 men at the 1:30 scale. I used my own "Der Alte Fritz" rules, which are excrutiatingly easy to play. In fact, the rules fit on one side of one standard 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper. They are excellent rules for convention games, because they are fast paced and the players have all of the mechanics figured out by the second turn. So they can usually run their own forces and I only have to sit around and offer interpretations of the rules or provide suggestions as to what works and what does not work within the rules.

This year's SYWA Convention has its own dedicated web site, which you can access at the following link:

Click on the link to get information about the location, game events and times, picture gallery of past conventions, and information about this year's special guest, Dr. Dennis Showalter.