Monday, February 25, 2013

Perry 16th L.D & Fife & Drum Comparison

Perry 16th Light Dragoons (unbased) with Fife & Drum British Mounted Officers for comparison. (Double click to enlarge the picture).

I spent a good part of the weekend painting some of the Perry 16th Light Dragoon figures for my AWI army that I will be taking to conventions. I have posted some pictures of the first six figures that I painted, along with two stands of Fife & Drum British mounted officers. This way one can compare how the two ranges mounted figures compare. The two ranges look to be comparable in height, but the Perry riders are a little chunkier than the Fife & Drum figures. As long as I keep each range in its own distinct unit, the two should look nice together on the table top.

I don't currently have cavalry for either side in the Fife & Drum Miniatures range yet, but plan to add the 16th Light Dragoons and the American 1st Continental Light Dragoons -- these will be next in the queue when my turn in the rotation comes around again.

Same picture, but a little further away for perspective.
It looks to me like the two ranges work together nicely. This is good because I can use the Perry cavalry figures until I have my own in the range. I currently have only 9 castings of the 16th L.D, but have enough on order to top the regiment up to 24 figures, or two squadrons at a 1:10 ratio = 240 cavalry.

Friday, February 22, 2013

BAR SYW Game With 24-figure Units

Prussian brigade of Minden Miniatures advance towards the French flank.
(Note: double click all pix to enlarge)

Bill Protz and I have wanted to try a few wargames using his Batailles de l'Ancien Regime rules ("BAR") with smaller 24 and 30 figure battalions at a 20:1 ratio of men to figures so as to demonstrate that the BAR rules can be used for games that do not involve huge 60 figure battalions. I hauled my old RSM French army out of storage to provide the opponent for my Minden Miniatures Prussian army. Michael Matthews also brought along some old school  figures including Minifigs, Hinchcliffe and a few ancient Scruby figures. You can read Michael's detailed report of the action on the Prussian right and center by clicking on the link below:

Michael normally plays the Russians and he always gives my Prussians a hard pounding, so I was pleased to be fighting with him, rather than against him, in our French vs. Prussian battle. Michael commanded a brigade of about 7 battalions, a few cannon and regiments of dragoons and hussars. Our center, commanded by Kurt, had four Minden Prussian regiments, some jagers and a battery of 12 pounders. I commanded the left wing cavalry (4 x 20 cuirassiers and 1 x 20 hussars; 2 x 6-pd horse artillery cannon, and 4 x 30 battalions of infantry) and infantry brigade.

Neither side had a particular battle plan. We just sort of lined up the troops and both sides surged forward to fight it out. Well, sort of... 

I decided, in my most typical Prussian way, to attempt to march around the French right flank and create a kink in their line, which could then be exploited by our forces in the center, commanded by Kurt. One nice thing about playing with 20 to 30 figure battalions of infantry and 12 to 20 figure cavalry regiments is that you have a lot of open flank space on Bill's 20 foot long wargame table. It was really kind of cool!

Below, Chris Kenth and Bill Protz command the French army. Chris is quite the attack dog and you always know that you are in for a hard fight when he lines up across the table from you, as Kurt was about to find out.

No particular plan or scenario, it was just "set 'em up and move 'em out on the attack"! Lots of pretty Minden Prussians on the right hand center side of the picture facing off against a long grey line of RSM French.

Michael deploys his Prussians on the right flank and moves to control the high ground.

Kurt's Prussians in the center have blown away a lone battalion of Irish in French service. The dastardly French overlords apparently sent one battalion of Irish all by its lonesome to sop of the first fires of the Prussians.

You can read what happened in the center and right from the Prussian perspective by reading Michael's battle report (see the link above). Basically, the French center wiped out the Prussian center. The Prussian right was wiping out the French left and with them thus disposed, the Prussian right wing turned back on the center to deal with the hole in the line that had developed. I think that Michael plugged the hole quite well, and then some!

While all that was going on, Kurt Donzelli (the French commander on their right) and I spent most of the game in an exciting back and forth series of heavy cavalry melees. My RSM French cavalry regiments have only 12 figures (or 240 riders at 20:1), so we brigaded two such regiments together. Their Prussian counterparts had 20 figure cavalry regiments, so there was relative equality in the forces.

Prussian and French heavy cavalry mix it up on the left flank, supported by Prussian horse artillery (alas, masked by the melee so it could not fire). My plan was to try and turn the French right flank with all of my cuirassiers, followed up by my brigade of Prussian infantry.

The Prinz von Preussen Cuirassiers (KR5), 20 figures,  take on two 12-figure French regiments.

Saxons and more Irish arrive in the center as the French side slip to their right to stop the Prussian flank attack.

The French cavalry have been driven away and now the Prussian infantry  assemble in some dead ground and prepare to launch the coup de grace against the French right, supported horse artillery.

The game moved very fast in my opinion and the BAR rules work very well with the smaller forces. I rather like the way the rules work with these smaller units, as they didn't stay around as long due to battle attrition, but since you don't test morale until your unit falls below 50%, the forces are not brittle nor prone to running away quickly.

I would definitely use BAR again for these smaller armies. Small by our standards, but probably closer to "normal" sized for most wargamers. Give it try and see for yourself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prussian SYW Cavalry

DR5 - the Bayreuth Dragoons (click to enlarge and behold their awesomeness)

I am making a conscious effort to get back to my touchstone of the Seven Years War after spending the past year mostly focused on the American Revolution. Understandably, the launch of the new Fife & Drum Miniatures range made it necessary to paint up samples of each figure for the blog-catologue as well as the need to build two armies (Continentals and British) so that I could promote the range via colorful wargames.

So after painting a brigade of Continentals (4 regiments with 110 figures in total) starting New Years Day and on through St. Valentines Day, I find that I need a little bit of break from AWI painting. This seems like the perfect time to shift over to the SYW, so you will probably see more Prussians and Austrians on my blog over the next month. The annual SYW Association convention isn't until April 5th and 6th this year, so that gives me a little extra time to paint some last minute things for the show. I hope to use that extra time to paint some more SYW figures - Mindens of course.

So for a little bit of inspiration, I cleared off my wargame table (the remnants of the Lobositz game) and pulled out my Minden collection of 20:1 ratio armies. Each casting represents 20 real soldiers. Thus battalions of infantry average around 30 figues (600 men) and squadrons of cavalry are at 6 figures (120 troopers). Laying them all out on the table also enables me to see what is missing. One obvious thing is the need to add more cavalry!

Pictured above are 32 of the DR5 regiment in Prussin service, the famed Bayreuth Dragoons. They were a 10 squadron regiment of heavy cavalry (dragoons) as opposed to the normal 5 squadron establishment of most of the other Prussian cavalry regiments. Ten squadrons would work out to about 1,200 troopers and officers, or 60 figures at 20:1. Hmm, they could also do double duty as a BAR regiment at 10:1 - honestly, that idea just hit me as I am typing this.

Leading the regiment is a dragoon officer that Ioannis painted for me along with the Minden Seydlitz personality figure that I painted. I think that I might ask Ioannis to paint some of my army command stands for me, as I want them to look extra special and he does such a good job. His horses and shabraques are second to none.

I have a regiment of 32 unpainted Minden Prussian cuirassiers sitting in my Closet O' Lead and I have been itching to get these into the painting queue and start to work on them. I think that I've had the figures for a couple of years now. Perhaps it is well that I have waited, for Frank Hammond recently announced that he would be adding a Prussian cuirassier kettle drummer to the range. Wow, wow, just wow freakin' wow. I am happy.

Prussian kettle drummer from Dorn & Engleman

Yessiree, I'm gonna have a heap o' these in my Prussian cuirassier establishment.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Prussian Pioneers, Part II

Same picture as before only this time using my Canon camera rather than the iPad camera. click to enlarge, it should work with this version.

I shot another picture of the Prussian Pioneers marching past  the inn and there is His Royal Nibs Himself, Freddy the Deuce, watching the world go by. The pioneers are from the Minden range and painted with Prussian pioneer orange waistcoats. Some have the tools that come with the set, while others carry poles that are off cuts from some of the North Star spears that I use for flag poles. The pulver wagen is from Berlin Zinnfiguren and the two wagons in the background were scratch built by the talented Mr. Ed Phillips. Frederick is from the Minden range and the two gents standing behind him are nice poses from the Old Glory Prussian artillery range.

The Prussian artillery park - repairs are underway.

In this picture, we see the Prussian artillery park and the crew are making repairs on some of the battle damaged pieces. The blacksmith in the vignette on the left is from the Hovels range and the field forge or "Feldt Schmiede" is from Berlin Zinnfiguren. In the center, we have an artillery gyn that is being used to hoist a cannon barrel from the carriage. I scratch built this model and the figures are all from the Minden range. You can see the Pioneers again, this time painted as artillery crew in waistcoats. The vignette on the right is a crew changing a broken wheel. The cannon is an RSM 12 pounder and the figures are Mindens. Finally, the two howitzers on the far right are from Berlin Zinnfiguren too.

Austrian battery of one six pounder and one twelve pounder. Click to enlarge.
And finally, we have to give a little bit of love to the Austrians, with an artillery battery pictured above. Most of the crew (the ones in brown coats) are the Minden Austrian artillery crew. But once again, we see those ever so useful pioneer figures in waistcoats serving as matrosses for the Austrian battery. The pioneer figures have a lot of different uses, don't you think?

The cannon are from Berlin Zinnfiguren as are the limbers. The limber horses and riders are RSM figures. In the background you can see some of my Minden Austrian infantry. I paint regiments of two 30-figure battalions and include a mounted regimental officer with each pair of battalions.

I set all of these wonderful Minden figures out on my wargame table so that I can look at them every evening and marvel at how wonderful the sculpts of Richard Ansell are. It also enables me to see what I need to paint in order to complete both my Prussian and Austrian armies. They have been neglected over the past year due to the fact that I have had to paint my AWI armies from a dead start and I needed enough British and American forces painted so that I could take them to wargame conventions and display the fine figures in participation games.

The Austrians need one more battalion of Hungarian infantry, 3 or 4 more artillery limbers, about 4 artillery supply wagons, mounted brigade and army generals, lots of cavalry including cuirassiers, hussars and maybe more cuirassiers. There is much work yet to do.

Friday, February 15, 2013

SYW Prussian Pioneers

Prussian pioneers - Minden Miniature figures and inn made by Herb Gundt

I wanted to post this picture before retiring for the evening - I will post some commentary about the picture tomorrow. I will have to play around with the photo as it does not apparently enlarge when one clicks on the photo. It was taken on my iPad and the original version is very large and very clear. This copy is small and blurry for some reason. Any helpful hints out there would be appreciated.

I used the Minden Miniatures generic pioneers and painted them as Prussian Pioneers in waistcoats. Presumably the coats have been removed prior to these fellows getting to work on some job. The building is a country inn in Silesia and is modeled after a Knotel drawing. Note the cute little bird house on the pole in the backyard of the inn. The powder wagon is from Berlin Zinnfiguren and is a giant 30mm model. The wagon in the back ground is scratch built by Mr. Ed Phillips.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jim's Rule of Fours Revisited

An example of "Jim's Rules of Four" -- two Prussian infantry brigades of four battalions. Minden Miniatures. Click picture to enlarge the view.
Many years ago I wrote an article in the old "Historical Gamer" magazine about my thoughts on how many units or maneuver elements that the average player could handle in any type of a Wargame . My hypothesis was that four was the magic number (plus a battery of artillery )

An army general might be able to handle four corps without getting overwhelmed; a corps commander could handle up to four divisions; a division commander could handle maybe three brigades plus his divisional artillery; a brigade commander could handle four regiments. So whenever I design Wargame scenarios for convention play, I tend to limit the players to four maneuver elements and I try to target four players per side . Anymore than that and the players and the game judge have too much going on in order to keep things tight and under control through out the game.

Last evening, I happened to be reading Charles S. Grant's "The Wargame Companion" and he set out his thoughts as to what constituted the ideal Wargame army:

8 battalions of line infantry
1 battalion of light infantry

3 heavy or medium cavalry regiments (dragoons or cuirassiers)
1 light cavalry regiment

2 artillery pieces

3 battalion generals and 1 army commander

This is Jim's Rule of Fours in practice! You divide all the infantry into two brigades of 4 battalions, there are four cavalry regiments and it all boils down to having three commands in this typical army. One of the infantry players can also command the artillery whilst the other takes the jaegers to augment their commands.

I find that I frequently consult the "Wargame Companion" for ideas and inspiration and recommend that you should too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prussian Artillery Bricoles?

Minden Miniatures Pioneers painted as Prussian artillerist in waistcoats. RSM limber and driver.

Here is a picture of an artillery vignette that I created back in 2010, based on the Knotel print below, where we see Prussian artillery crew manhandling the cannon back into its firing position. They use a combination of ropes to pull the cannon, and a lift bar to keep the trail from dragging alone the ground creating friction. The ropes were called avancir-Riemen according to Christopher Duffy -- 

"(they) were attached to hooks on the carriage cheeks and the ends of the axle and pulled over the right shoulder of the crewmen. At the same time, a transvers bar was inserted (see below) by two of the crewmen through a set of eyes on the trail of the carriage, lifted to clear the ground and pushed from the rear. Over reasonable ground the piece was capable of being moved at slightly more than the pace of marching infantry, and on each bound the gunners reckoned to haul their cannon far enough ahead to enable them to get off a couple of rounds before their infantry caught up. The heavier pieces were dragged by horse-power all the way to the battery sites."

-- The Army of Frederick the Great (page 179)

Prussian artillery crew manhandle the cannon into position. Knotel print.

Artillery crews were using drag ropes to haul the heavy cannon back into place for many years prior to the Napoleonic Wars. They were certainly using drag ropes during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 - 1748) and during the Seven Years War.

In my artillery vignette, I used florist wire to create the rope by twisting two pieces together to form a cable. At one end, I twisted the wire into a loop so that it could be attached to the axle of the cannon model. The "rope" is then fit into the open hands of the Minden Miniatures "Pioneer" figures. These are wonderful figures, very versatile and useful for a number of purposes. They can be holding the tools that come with each set. They can be holding planks of wood or rods used for pontoon bridge building. They can carry sacks of flour or gunpowder by making a burlap bag out of green epoxy putty. You are only limited by your imagination. I use the same figures for both Austrian and Prussian artillery crew matrosses (helpers) and countless other uses.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prussian Field Bakery

Prussian field bakery model by Ed Phillips. The lefthand oven is under construction while the right hadn oven is completed. From the collection of Randy F.

18th Century Field Bakery - built by Ed Phillips - from Der Alte Fritz's collection.

The field bakery with several Minden Pioneers to show the proportions.

Ed Phillips creates some wonderful life like models of Seven Years War era buildings and terrain pieces and while I have featured these models in some of my other blog posts, I thought that Ed deserved a shout out and recognition for his work. Ed usually brings a dozen or so different models to the annual SYW Assn. convention and they fly off the shelves like hot cakes!

Below is a picture of some drawings of Grunewald 30mm flats, sold through the Berlin Zinnfiguren store. The drawings give you an idea of the types of laborers and poses that you might want to have should you ever consider building your own field bakery model. Fortunately, Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures range has a growing number of civilian figures that could be easily adapted to KP duty on  your table top.

Drawings of Grunewald Flats - Prussian Field Bakery

Here are some more of Ed's creations, these are in the collection of Randy F., who is one of our BAR group of table top generals. So we get to see these models frequent, tucked in the back corners of the table.
Field bakery is under construction. Model by Ed Phillips and figures are the Minden Miniatures Pioneers.
The armies of the period would haul the iron bands from camp site to camp site and construct a new field bakery on-site, making the bricks locally. The bands provide the framework for the brick oven.