Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye 2014 - Year In Review

Liebgarde of Hesse Seewald (click to enlarge view)

As the last few hours of 2014 draw to a close, I thought that I would take a quick look back at the year and review what happened. If you click on any picture, it will enlarge the size for better viewing.

First some statistics:

The blog had 67,616 visitors which averages out to 5,635 visits per month or 185 visits per day. The peak month for visits was in January 2014 when the site logged 7,384 visits.

In June the Der Alte Fritz Journal received its 500,000th visitor. Wow!

Approximately 29% of the visitors are from the United States, followed by the UK with 20%, Germany with 8% and Australia with 4%. The category "Unknown" logged 27% of the visits. I suspect that most of these came from the United States and the UK.

As I scrolled through the posts for 2014, I realized that I only played in 4 four wargames and one of those was actually the game(s) that I hosted at the Seven Years War Association convention in March 2014. That seems like a severe drop in gaming as I think that I usually do six to eight games a year. I'm not sure what happened there, but I resolve to play in more games in 2015.

Business Highlights:

In October, Fife & Drum Miniatures successfully launched its second Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, raising enough funds to add four Austrian cannon, two Austrian supply wagons, four Russian cannon, eight Russian artillery crew, and two Russian supply wagons.

Austrian 12-pounder funded through Kickstarter

Fife & Drum Miniatures also placed 32 AWI dragoons and 3 AWI personality figures into production during 2014. These were also funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that was launched in 2013.

British Legion Dragoons

British 17th Light Dragoons

Minden Miniatures also added new figures to the SYW and War of Austrian Succession ranges, including the Volontaires de Saxe lancers, Maurice de Saxe riding in his wicker carriage at Fontenoy, the French Cuirassiers de Roi, two new civilian limber team drivers, one Austrian team driver and one Prussian team driver. We also added three new limber horses.

Maurice de Saxe Personality Figure (this was a joint project between Westphalia Miniatures, who made the wicker carriage, and Minden Miniatures, with Richard Ansell sculpting a seated Maurice).

Volontaires de Saxe Lancer

French Cuirassiers du Roi
Artillery Train Drivers (Prussian - Left; Austrian - Right)
In September, we announced our partnership with Crann Tara Miniatures in the UK. Crann Tara is now the distributor of all Fife & Drum AWI figures and artillery equipment in Europe. Crann Tara also distributes a limited portion of the Minden figure range (SYW Highlanders and Hanoverians; civilians, Volontaires de Saxe and SYW artillery equipment).

War Game Hobby Highlights:

2014 saw the beginning of the fictional Hesse Seewald army using Minden Miniatures Prussian figures. By the end of the year, I had completed four infantry battalions (30 figures each), one squadron of mounted Guides (12 cavalry),  a two gun section of foot artillery using 6-pounders, and two 3-pound battalion guns.

Hesse Seewald Field Artillery 6-pounder Battery

Hesse Seewald Corps of Guides

Charlottenburg Grenadiers in Hesse Seewald Service

Von Glasenap Regiment of Hesse Seewald
Wargames played included:

The Battle of Pirna (February) - Austrian-Saxon victory over Prussia

Battle of Pirna - February

Lobositz (March) - Prussian victory at the SYWA convention

Battle of Lobositz - March

The Battle of Sonnenfeld in East Prussia - Prussian victory over the Russians

Battle of Sonnenfeld in East Prussia - August

Gildershaven - The Annual Light Infantry Game (December) - everyone's a winner in this game!

Battle of Gildershaven - December

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Little Bit of House Keeping Completed

Frederick's Parchwitz Address prior to the Battle of Leuthen

Since I cannot paint yet, I decided to clean up the links on the left hand side of the page, by deleting the broken links, adding a few new links (such as the Kronoskaf, Christian Rogge's Blog and League of Augsburg sites). I have checked each link and they all work.

I also moved the Minden and Fife & Drum links to the top of the link section so that they are easier to find (hint, hint, buy more Mindens in 2015).

I also plan to make some updates to the Minden blog site to add all of the new figures that were created in 2014.

I am of a mind to drop the "Minden Miniatures" name and call all of the figures "Fife & Drum Miniatures" and then simply list "SYW Range", "AWI Range", etc. I am wondering what my readers think. Please leave your comment in the comments section so that I can get some feedback on this idea.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas From Hesse Seewald

Christmas Tree 2014 at Schloss Seewald

Der Alte Fritz and Mrs. Fritz and Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May your day be filled with family and friends along with plenty of food and other holiday merriment. If you can't be with family and loved ones, pick up the telephone and give them a call. You will not regret it.


Now on to the important matter of things wargaming, and specifically, my ability to pick up a brush and paint figures. It is still a no go for painting as I can feel a dull twinge in my wrist when I try to paint. I have nothing to base this on, but my guess is that it will take four to six weeks post-surgery before I can feel comfortable sitting at the painting table for anything more than five minutes.

Perhaps I should take advantage of all of this new-found time and clear off the game table of all of the junk that seems to collect there and set up a solo AWI game. I wanted to do Cowpens in January 2015, but I lack the proper cavalry figures for both sides and I can't paint the 3rd Continental Dragoons or the British Legion cavalry. However, I can substitute other painted cavalry that I have and still play the game, so that is probably what I will do.


I had hoped to reach my goal of posting 100 entries on my blog in 2014, but it appears that I will come up short by about 7 or 8 posts, even if I do one post every day through the end of this year. The wrist surgery set me back a bit and I don't see the point of doubling up on the blog entries each day in order to hit a meaningless number. So whatever I finish with is what I get, and I'm ok with that.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's No Bummer When You've Got a Brummer!

Here are some preliminary piccies of the 12-pound Brummer that Frederick used at the battle of Leuthen on December 5, 1757. These big artillery pieces were actually fortress guns located at Glogau ( in Silesia). Frederick had a shortage of cannon prior to Leuthen ( the Silesian army based in Breslau had lost most of their cannon after their defeat by the Austrians outside of Breslau, whereas the King's half of the army, fresh off their victory at Rossbach, was traveling light with respect to its compliment of artillery).

There are a couple of changes that we are making: bigger wheels and the placement of the trunnions is a bit off, but both are being corrected.

I want to thank Christian Rogge for allowing Fife & Drum to use his scale diagram of the Prussian Brummer

I expect to have these giant cannon in production early in 2015.
Here is a link to Christian's blog:

A Nice Little Tool Box

Today I went to Costco and bought this nifty wood tool box for $80, based on a recommendation from Wyatt The Odd ( his TMP handle), posted on his Facebook page. As you can see, it has a lot of drawers for holding everything from long rasp files, pliers, X-Acto knives and blades, and a host of other small tools that I use on a regular basis.

So thank you Wyatt. I bought it as a birthday present to myself (December 18th) belatedly.

Medical Update: I had the stitches removed from my right paw today. Now that I no longer have a lot of wrapping on the hand to contend with, I can start packing some of the Minden and Fife & Drum orders that I have on hand. These will not get posted until after Christmas, given that the lines at the post office are ridiculously long.

I hope to try a little bit of painting tomorrow evening to see how my wrist feels. Probably not too much at first, but I want to see if I can still paint.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Battle of Kolin Game Pix

Kolin game initial setup, March 2005

While I continue to convalesce from surgery on my right wrist, I thought that I would post a few favorite pictures from the past with minimal commentary. This first sentence alone took me 5 minutes to
type. These pix were taken at the SYW Association convention in March 2005. This was my first try at terrain boards. 6ft by 24ft table as I recall with one back table for the Kaiserstrasse and all RSM figures.

KOLIN game in progress, March 2005

Friday, December 12, 2014

From The Hospital Ward

I have an appointment on Monday to get the cast taken off and the stitches removed. I've noticed some slight improvement in my right hand flexibility: I can now tie my own shoes for example.

I watched The Guns of Naverone yesterday as part of my recovery film festival. Today will be either Barry Lyndon or The Blue Max.

I have also been reading my way through a stack of books and annuals written by Charles S. Grant, which is an enjoyable way to pass a lot of time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waterloo, The Movie

This evening I watch the classic Waterloo movie featuring Rod Stieger and Christopher Plummer as I continue my convalescence from wrist surgery. My copy was distributed by Castaway Collections and it was produced (pirated?) in China. The color in this DVD is much better than my old VHS COPY.

This version seemed to have a few more minutes of footage that I had never seen before so perhaps this is the "British Version" rather than the shorter "American Version ". I think that I bought my copy from Belle and Blade at Historicon .

My left hand gets tired so these posts will be short by necessity. My right paw is totally useless right now as I can't grip anything without getting a stab of pain. I tried to hold a paint brush just for grins, but it was no go. I can't use my computer because I can't use the mouse. The iPad works because I can touch type with the left hand but my finger tips start to hurt after about a minute.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wounded In Action - Going On Medical Leave

General Forbes is wounded near Fort Duquesne. Diorama at Fort Ligonier.

I will be undergoing surgery tomorrow to fix my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my right wrist. I am sure that there will be a certain amount of post operation discomfort for a few days and I don't know how soon I will be allowed to type, paint or pack figures. Hopefully, I won't be out of action for more than a week.

This will be a good thing in the long run as CTS can be very painful and discomforting and the surgery has a high success rate. We shall see.

Blogger won't seem to let me edit the picture or add captions. So the top picture depicts General Forbes being carried in a litter after being wounded near Fort Duquesne. The bottom picture depicts the officers mess at Fort Ligonier. Both pictures were taken at Fort Ligonier in 2013.

Officers' Mess Hall at Fort Ligonier

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Annual SYW Light Infantry Game

The Gilderhaven Terrain Table (click to enlarge the view)

Every December our gaming group gathers together in Brown Deer, Wisconsin to play the annual SYW Light Troop Game. Gone are the heavy cannon, the iron cuirassiers and the Guards and Grenadiers from our rosters, leaving only the light troops. It serves as a nice change of pace.

This years game reduced everyone's command down to about two units of infantry and/or cavalry and changed the scale from 1 to 10 to 1 to 1. Each player had their own mission/agenda to accomplish and none of us knew who the other forces were that were on the table. Were they friends or foes?

Each player was also given one dollar in change, each penny representing one Mark. You could use your money to bribe other players or pay toll fees and harbor fees etc. One way to win the game was to collect the money.

It was perhaps the oddest game that I have ever played because there was hardly any combat on the table top, except towards the end of the game. Each player seemed to be focused on his mission and did not want to be the one to fire the first shot as this might unleash all kinds of fire and fury on the tabletop.

As usual, I controlled the forces of Lady De Winter and her Black Legion (45 infantry and 13 Bosniak Lancers). My wingman, Earl, commanded most of the Black Legion light cavalry consisting of 36 Black Hussars and 24 Blue (Zieten) Hussars.

Our mission was to escort Lady De Winter to the harbor of Gilderhaven and secure passage for her on a boat so that she could escape. This was easily accomplished; however, the mission kept my eyes from looking around the table and seeing that little ditzy Lady Pettygree and her couterie of Valley Girls riding right across the front of my cavalry! The chase was on, but Pettygree and her escort were too far away for either of Earl's hussar units to reach in time. In a last desperate act, I offered a bribe to the leader of the Cossacks, Mikhail, and he turned his band of riders away from the town and off in pursuit of Lady Diana Pettygree. The bribe also accomplished the removal of the Cossacks from the town without any of my men having to raise a weapon. Killed two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The harbormaster deploys his forces at the port of Gilderhaven.
Without further ado, here are some pictures from the game. Be sure to click on each picture to enlarge the view.

Lady Pettygree and her escort of French (Gallian) hussars and lancers ride past the Inn at the far left end of the table.

The border guard house at the far right end of the table. Pettygree and her little band of strumpets had to pass through here and cross the bridge into Gallia and safety.

The Gallian light cavalry,  with Lady Pettygree hidden in the center of the horsemen, ride right past Lady De Winter's Blue Hussars. Look at that inviting open flank, just asking to be charged. Doh!

An aeriel view from one of the Montgolphier brothers hot air balloons shows Pettygree's band as it rides past the front of the unknowing Blue Hussars. They were more focused on getting Lady De Winter into the port safely.

Lady De Winter's black coach arrives at the harbor quay. The coach is a red herring as Milady is actually riding her horse next to the Black Duke.
The Cossacks being closer to the Pettygree band than the Blue Hussars, they accept the bribe to join the Black Legion and they dutifully attack Lady Pettygree's rear guard of Bercheny Hussars. The hussars are wiped out to the man by the Cossacks.

Arrgh! Pettygree escapes again right under the noses of the Germanian border guards who ushered her party through.. You can see Pettygree's rear guard getting ready to engage the pursuing Cossacks.
I think that everyone had a good time playing the game, even though there was very little in the way of combat on the table. It never occured to me that Lady Pettygree would be somewhere on the table. To think that I watched her ride across my front without stirring up any suspicion. It was only after she had moved on down the road that I even noticed her. By then, it was too late.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Leuthen Day, Fashionably Late

A recreation of Frederick's Parchwitz Address on the night before the Battle of Leuthen

Yesterday I knew that December 5th was the anniversary of the Battle of Leuthen in 1757. I meant to post something about the occasion, but time was working against me and I just couldn't get to the task.

So here are some photos of the Battle of Leuthen that we played back in 2009 at Chez Protz, in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. If I recall correctly, the Prussians won the game by a mere whisker as the Austrian cavalry general Nadasdy did a superb job of slowing down the Prussian flank attack on the Austrian left. This provided enough time for the rest of the Austrian army to set up a new battle line in the town of Leuthen. 

Here are a few pictures of the wargame, fought using troops at a 1 to 10 ratio of figures to men, and using the Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules. Click on all pictures to enlarge the view.

Austrians deploy one of their brigades adjacent to the Leuthen church.
A view of the Austrian left flank anchored by Leuthen on the right and Sagchutz on the left.

A view of the initial Austrian deployment on their right flank.

The Prussian attack on the Austrian left flank is deployed and ready to move forward.

The unfortunate Bavarians and Wurttemburgers have to bear the brunt of the Prussian attack.
Austrian dragoons stop the first wave of Prussian cuirassiers on the attack.

Colonel Muller deploys his heavy Prussian Brummers on the Judenberg and prepares to enfilade the Austrian position with cannon ball and canister.

The Austrian right flank was not allowed to react for several turns, so they remain stationary as the battle begins.

Austrian de Ligne Dragoons and a regiment of infantry march through Leuthen to shore up the left flank.

More Austrians on the move.

The Austrians attempt to form a new battle line on their left flank, but are now receiving fire from front and flank.

The famous Windmill Hill, where the Austrians set up their final line of defense.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Little Bit of Housekeeping

Christmas lights sparkle at the Hesse Seewald train station this evening.

I will be traveling north to Brown Deer, Wi (don't you just love that name?) next Saturday December 6th to play in our group's annual Light Troops SYW game using the Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ( or "BAR" rules). We do this every December so that we can put the heavy cavalry away and test our tabletop skills with nothing but light troops. It always results in a fun game, with that traitor Lady Pettygree just narrowly escaping capture by the Black Legion of Lady de Winter.

The game has given me something to look forward to as I have had to pack a lot of boxes of the new Minden Austrian artillery for the recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Add to that the fact that Mrs. Fritz has booked me for a number of parties and fetes as well as the need to deck the halls with boughs of holly and, well, you can see that I've been too busy to get anything done on the painting table for awhile.

We had terrific Winter weather over the weekend, with temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit so everyone on the block was out stringing up Christmas lights while the weather was nice. I managed to frame the front doorway with a garland of evergreens running up the side and across the connecting thingie (the lintel?) and back down the otherside to the ground. The top portion is about 9 or 10 feet high and I had to accomplish this with only a 6 foot ladder and a hope and a prayer that I wouldn't take a fall from the ladder. I also had the presence of mind to string lights through the garland before hanging it on the doorway ( as Michael Caine might have said, "I did manage to think of that").

So with all of that done by Sunday evening, I managed to find a little bit of time with the brushes churning out some Eliteminiatures 1805 Russians that I owe to one of the participants at the Light Troops game this weekend. I had sold him all of my 28mm Napoleonics about 5 or 6 years ago and figured that I would never see them again. Then I had the bright idea of doing a barter deal with the gentleman to have him solder some pin swords for me and to cut some wooden movement trays.

And what did I have to do in return? You guessed it, I had to finish painting the regiment of half painted Russians that I started back in 1990. Talk about eating the sins of the Sin Eater! A year or two later, I still hadn't painted the figures and so I decided that it was time to remove this obligation from my back and get them done. So far I've painted 72 Russians with 24 more to go.