Friday, January 24, 2020

Kleine Krieg Rules Q & A

Der Alte Fritz answers questions from play testers of his new Kleine Krieg rules.
(click to enlarge the picture)

I have a number of play testers working on my Kleine Krieg skirmish rules for the Seven Years War and I am getting some good feedback that I thought that I would share with my readers. The questions and the answers are shown below:

Question 1 - Initiative: Do you dice to determine who goes first, as in your rules for larger battles, or is there a different method?

Answer: Initiative is determined by the draw of a card from a deck that you create prior to the start of the game. I make my own cards by cutting them out of cardboard. Each unit in the game will have two cards with its name on the card. All cards for all units are shuffled together and the draw of the card determines which unit gets to perform an Action first. Note that any unit can theoretically draw two consecutive cards and thus perform back to back Actions.

Question 2 - In the turn order: move, shoot, melee and morale (and when for morale). Should it be on the play sheet?

Answer: The turn order is determined by each player when one of his cards is drawn from the card deck. A player may decide that he wants to shoot on the first turn; or move first; or charge into melee, etc. There is a box on the back of the QRC sheet labeled "When to Check Morale" and such checks are taken when

1) Charging unit takes casualties during the charge
2) Defender decides to Stand to a charge
3) Melee loser tests morale
4) Officer or personality figure casualty that occurs on the current game turn

Note that units do not have to test morale when they take casualties from firing (except if taken during the charge - see event 1) above.

Question 3 - Two actions in one turn feels like a lot for a small skirmish game on a smaller 4ft by 6ft table, especially when units are within 18-inches (which is the musket range). 

Answer: the rules are flexible and feel free to make changes during your play testing. On a smaller 4x6 table I would recommend using smaller units of, say, 12 figures instead of the 12 to 24 figures that I use in my skirmish game. You could also experiment with reducing all ranges and movement by half.

Question 4: I do like the idea of a reload as an Action which stops people blazing away willy nilly twice in a bound. It makes it more of a tense game in timing a charge or movement when close to an enemy - are they going to reload in time?

Answer: a "reload" Action is an interesting idea that I will consider adding to the rules. I kind of like the idea of a dastardly Croat letting the Prussians have it in the face on consecutive actions. On the other hand, if there were a "reload" Action in the rules, a unit might want to only fire half of its unit (e.g. fire 6 of 12 figures in a unit) while the other half of the unit holds its fire. Thus the other six figures can fire at an opponent and cover the other half who are reloading.

Question 5: When a unit takes a casualty how do you decide who is hit? I did a dice roll to count along the unit's line, in the manner of the Featherstone and Grant rules.

Answer: My perusal of the rules sheet indicates that the officer casualty procedure is not listed on the rules sheet. Originally, I was using a deck of regular playing cards to determine fire effects and if an Ace card was drawn, then the fire effect applied to the officer in the unit or the Personality figure if he was attached.

I think that your solution is a good idea. So roll a D6 and start counting from left to right along the line of the unit's figures. Thus a roll of "5" indicates that the fifth figure from the left would be the casualty. Or maybe roll two D6 if it is a 12-figure unit.

Question 6: It felt odd with both the winning and losing sides in a melee taking prisoners. Should the winners (sic - "losers" perhaps) just retire?

Answer: Melees are fought on a one to one basis, or up to a maximum of three figures picking on one unfortunate Joe if one of the sides has extra figures in its unit (e.g. one side has 6 figures and the other side has 9 figures - thus one side has three extra figures that it can match up with other melees in the fight. In this instance the extra figures can double up on one figure first, rather than adding two more figures , that is 3 to 1. If there are still extra figures after all figures have doubled up on the opponent, then the third figure can join the melee).

It might be a good rule change to have the losing side in the melee retreating and releasing its prisoners. Thus only melee winners retain captured prisoners.

Question 7: The melee system seems a bit fiddly. I do like the one on one combat ( as in The Sword and the Flame rules). Could the hit and casualty outcomes be shown from the difference in the initial opposed rolls rather than having to roll dice again?

Answer: There is only one dice roll in a melee. The one die roll applies to both the combat part of the melee and the melee outcome result.

The winner of a one on one melee is the figure that rolls the higher number on its combat dice roll. For example, if Player A rolls a "12" on a D20 and Player B rolls a "9" on a D20, then Player A wins the melee. Player A now consults the Melee Results Table and sees that the "12" that he rolled in the melee translates into a Kill outcome (a roll of 12 to 20 is a kill).

If we were to "net out" the opposing numbers, in this case a 12 less a 9 equals a 3 outcome which translates to "loser taken prisoner". The result can be substantially different if the die rolls are netted against each other. If you want to try netting the dice scores, the I would recommend reducing the Melee Effects by half (e.g. a 20 roll become a 10 roll and the 12 to 20 roll outcome of Kill is changed to 6 to 10 equalling a Kill outcome.

For those readers who do not have a copy of the rules in front of them, the melee results table:

On a D20, Melee Results are:

12 to 20    Kill
9 to 11      Wound inflicted on the loser
5 to 8        Flee, the loser retires 12-inches
1 to 4        Loser is taken prisoner

Halving the above table changes the outcome buckets to 6 to 10 = Kill; 4-5 = Wound; 2-3 = Flee, and a 1 = Loser taken prisoner.

I think that the play tester asked a lot of good questions and found a couple of logic holes in the rules. I appreciate all feedback from our play testers. The rules are not set in stone yet so I can still change mechanics that either don't work or produce odd results.

I welcome comments from readers who are not play testers. Just write your observations and opinions in the Comments section of this blog post.

Frederick the Great's Birthday Today

Vignette of King Frederick taking the colours of the IR48 regiment at the battle of Zorndorf.
Conversion by me.

Today is the anniversary of the birth date of King Frederick II of Prussian - January 24, 1712. Because this is the Der Alte Fritz Journal, it is appropriate to note his birthday on this blog.

Happy Birthday Fritz!

Frederick as rendered by Minden Miniatures.

Frederick the Great reviews his troops on his birthday. Regimental ensigns parade their colors past the king.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Late Roman Campaign & Pix

Roman watch tower along the Danube frontier is defended by the Martenses "pseudo-comitatensis" legion.
Note the pair of signal fires that are ready to be torched if the German tribes are on the move.

It has probably never occurred to any of my blog readers that I would have an interest in the broad based "Ancients" historical period. What's this Fritz? Hey, hold on there for a second; tell me it ain't so!

Well it is in fact true. I like wargaming the Ancients (and the Medieval period too). More specifically, I like the "Late Roman" period ( circa 300AD to 407AD) because the Roman army is no longer the world beater that it was in its heyday, but it should still have an advantage over any run of the mill barbarian army. The Persians of course are a different matter, but that is a blog report for another day.

My entire 28mm Late Roman army has made its first appearance on a game table since at least 2004.

I have recently committed to participating in a campaign set in the Mediterranean part of the world during the period of the Roman Empire. It is an opportunity for the various campaign players to get their armies out on the game table and roll some dice. As far as I know, the rivals and opponents can be from any part of the Roman era. So it is possible that an army from Julius Ceasar's time could cross swords with an army of Visigoths and Vandals from the 400AD era. 

A view of the Roman battle line. The armored legio comitatensis units are deployed in the front line, supported by the unarmoured Auxillia Palatinum soldiers.

The Campaign

Each player starts the campaign with a "homeland" consisting of three provinces or states. My domain is located in Asia Minor with the provinces of Galatia, Pontus and Cappadocia under my rule. My domain covers roughly the east half of modern day Turkey. I have Macedonians to the left of me, Persians and nomadic tribes to the right of me and here I am stuck in the middle of the Middle East. Oh, and Egyptians to the south of me. 

So the campaign was the event that found me digging my Late Roman army out of storage and letting the little men see the light of day for the first time since 2004, when I moved to my present home in Hesse Seewald. I know that I played at least one game in 2001 because my nephew Alex and I played with the figures prior to his joining the U.S. Army. The Late Romans and Barbarians might have seen maybe one other battle, but certainly nothing since 2004.

Nearly all of my Late Romans are Wargame Foundry figures sculpted by the Perry brothers, before they went out on their own and started Perry Miniatures. I really like these figures. There are also a few Gripping Beast figures, but these are noticeably larger than the Perry figures. Most of my Gripping Beast figures are in the ranks of the barbarian tribes.

I had to give a list of the units in my Late Roman army to the campaign judge so that he could develop an army list for my domain as well as those of the other domains in the campaign. Accordingly, I brought out trays and boxes of figures from the catacombs of my house and set up all of my Late Romans onto my game table. I have to say that I was impressed by the spectacle of 12-13 infantry legions, auxillia and limitanei troops plus five units of cavalry. You can see them all lined up in battle array in the second picture from the top (see above).

The Infantry

The Late Roman field army was called the Comitatenses, which served behind the front line border soldiers called Limitani (which were of lower quality than the units in the Comitatenses). The Comitatenses was available to "plug the holes in the dyche" whenever a hoard of barabarians, usually Germanic tribes, broke through the border walls. Sometimes border troops were temporarily transferred to the main Comitatenses and they were called Pseudo-Comitatenses units

The senior units in the Roman army were called Palatini/Palatinae/Palatina, and this designation applied to both infantry and cavalry units. Cavalry units were called Vexillationes Palatinae (of which there were 5 such units) and infantry units were largely Legiones Palitina ( 5 units) or Auxillia Palatina (10 units -  which were first raised by the emperor Constantine). 

The non-senior units in the infantry were Legiones Comitatenses and the Pseudo-Comitatenses soldiers.

The Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani legio with green and white shield are deployed on the front line and are supported by  the Celtae Seniores auxilia palatinum with the red shields, and the Martenses psuedo-commitatensis unit with the plain blue shields. A pair of bolt throwers, called Scorpions, cover each flank of the legio in the front line.

The Ioviani Seniores legio comitatensis is posted in the center of the Roman battle line. It has rear support from an auxillia unit that I can't identify. The shield design could be one that I made up or it could be that of a real regiment in the Roman army. If you know anything about the shield design then please let me know.

Who are these guys? I really want to know.

On the left flank of the battleline we see the Secunda Britannica legio commitatensis. Behind it, providing support, is the  Petulantes Seniores auxillia palatinum regiment and behind them one can barely see some archers that provide missile support to the troops

The Celtae Seniores auxillia palatinum unit poses in front of a frontier watch tower (made by Herb Gundt). The two  haystacks in the background are actually signal fires. In the event that something dire is happening, the garrison of the watch tower will set the hay on fire to signal other watch towers. The emperor Julian the Apostate (purple cloak) is on the horse to the right of the Celtae Seniores.

Another view of the watch tower and the right flank of the Roman army

The Cavalry:

Late Roman cavalry were organized into Vexillationes and these were frequently broken up into smaller units and deployed in different places throughout the empire. The Roman army had both heavy battle cavalry and light cavalry (often armed horse archers or spearmen).

Scola Gentilum Seniorum - basically a "guard cavalry" unit.

Heavily armoured cataphract cavalry holding their long lances called "kontos". Note that the horses benefit from armour too.

The Scola on the left, and the Scutarii with their red shields are on the right. Both are heavy battle cavalry.

Roman light cavalry includes Equites Sagitarii or horse archers, backed up by spearmen  of the Equites Dalmatae Passerentiiae 

The Roman heavy cavalry protects the right flank of the army formation. Sentries posted in the  watch tower keep an eye out for the barbarians.

The formidable looking Roman right flank.

A Typical Late Roman Army in Gaul

The army located in Gaul consisted of the following units:

4 vexillationes Palatina
8 vexillationes Comitatenses
12 total cavalry vexillationes

1    Legio Palatina
9    Legio Comitatenses
15  Auxillia Palatina
10  Pseudo-Comitatenses
35 total infantry units

My Late Roman Army


Scola Gentilum Seniorum - guard cavalry
Scutarii Seniores  - heavy cavalry in chain mail with spears
Cataphracts - fully armored men (and horses too!) armed with a long Kontos lance

Equites Sagitarii - horse archers
Equites Dalmatae - spear armed light cavalry

Each of my cavalry units has 12 figures.


Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani - Legio Palatina
Ioviani Seniores - Legio Palatina
Secunda Britannica - Legio Comitatenses

Cornuti Seniores     - Auxillium Palatinum
Brachiati Seniores   - Auxillium Palatinum
Petulantes Seniores - Auxilium Palatinum
Celtae Seniores       - Auxillium Palatinum
Martenses               - Pseudo-Comitatenses
? unknown              - Pseudo-Comitatenses
Sagitarii                  - Archers

So there are ten infantry units in my army. The legios have 30 figures and the auxillia have 24 figures.

There are also three bolt thrower artillery pieces called Scorpions.

Please check in to my blog over the next several months to see how the campaign is going.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Best of Purk Radio

I have a number of play lists on my Spotify music app and one of them, Purk Radio, has approximately 100 tunes. I decided that I needed to whittle the list down to a Top Thirty, which I call "The Best of Purk Radio". This is my go to music list. Why the name "Purk Radio" you might ask? It is the nickname that I had when I was in high school and college. Some of my closest and oldest friends still use it.

Note that these tunes are not necessarily ranked in the order of my "best songs". I have tried to group them in songs that lead into the next song in a similar manner.

The lead of tune is a great song from Cheap Trick, Live At Budacon. It has a lead in drum and guitar solo that runs about two minutes before the lyrics kick in and it is a great song for leading off any list of hit tunes. The beat of the tune leads nicely into the similar tempo of LaGrange by ZZ Top and then picks it up a little bit faster going into Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith.

Then I switch it up and tone it down a bit with Pink House, Lawyers Guns and Money (one of my faves), Take It Easy and Listen to The Music. Steve Gill turned me on to You Better You Bet by The Who and it has become one of my real top ten favorite songs. I had to include The Cowbell Song, better known as Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Money For Nothing has some derogatory name calling in one of the lyrics, so in this day and age, I might remove it from the list and add another Rolling Stones song.

The First Ten

1. Ain't That A Shame (Live at Budacon)  - Cheap Trick
2. LaGrange - ZZ Top
3. Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
4. Pink Houses - John Mellencamp
5. Lawyers Guns and Money - Warren Zevon
6. Take It Easy - The Eagles
7. Listen to the Music - Doobie Brothers
8. You Better You Bet - The Who (thanks to Steve Gill for this one)
9. Don't Fear the Reaper (the Cowbell Song on SNL) - Blue Oyser Cult
10. Money for Nothing - Dire Straits

The next ten songs are kind of "I'm pissed off at you" or "rebellion" songs. Who doesn't want to take care of business from time to time by doing nothing all day; who isn't looking towards the weekend when you have days off from work and you can do whatever you darn please.

The Second Ten

11.  Surrender - Cheap Trick
12.  Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
13.  Workin' For the Weekend - Loverboy
14.  Takin' Care of Business - Bachman, Turner Overdrive
15.  We're Not Going To Take It - Twisted Sister
16.  Hold On Loosely - 38 Special
17.  Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
18.  Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
19.  Who Are You - The Who
20.  American Women - The Guess Who

The final ten songs don't have any particular connection to one another, other than the fact that I like the songs and I had to put them somewhere. I do think that ending with The Who's "We Won't Get Fooled Again". Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" should have probably followed Takin' Care of Business. I like Joe Walsh a lot. I saw him live at a recent Eagles concert and I had no idea of what a great guitar player he is.

The Third Ten 

21. Lido Shuffle - Box Scaggs
22. Rock And Roll All Night - KISS
23. Baba O'Reilly - The Who
24. Life's Been Good - Joe Walsh
25. Authority Song - John Mellencamp
26. Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple
27. Honky Tonk Woman - Rolling Stones
28. Running on Empty - Jackson Browne
29. Already Gone - The Eagles
30. We Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who

Well that's my list. There are a lot of other songs that should have been on the list, but there just wasn't any room and I wanted to keep the list short. I had started with a Top Twenty list and needed to expand it, thus the number thirty.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Battle of Cowpens Anniversary

Don Troiani illustration of the cavalry clash between the British 17th Dragoons and William Washington's 3rd Dragoon Continentals.

Today, on January 17, 1781, Daniel Morgan's "flying column" defeated Banastre Tarleton's army of Crown Forces at a place known as Hannah's Cow Pens.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wanted: Skirmish Rules Play Testers

Austrian Grenadiers on the attack.

Prussian Jagers in the woods.

I have a good draft version of my Kleine Krieg skirmish rules ready for play testing.  I'm seeking some people who can help me by play testing the rules. Units are only 12 figures plus one personality figure.

I would like to get some feedback by early March 2020. This will give me time to make modifications prior to their use at this year's SYW Assn convention April 2-4.

If you are interested then let me know via the comments section of this post.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Return of the Painting Mojo & A Painting Tutorial

Prussian Guard IR15/II battalion.
Minden Miniatures.

Yesterday I finished 22 figures - Minden Miniatures SYW Prussian Guards in tricorn hats (hence the 2nd battalion of the IR15 Guard Regiment). There was a point during the afternoon painting session where I could really feel the painting mojo coming back. The paint was flying off of my brushes.

Close up view of the figures painted so far.

The figures are being painted as part of a painting challenge, set up by Major General Pettygree, for the month of January. I have to finish the total 32-figure unit by the end of this month. Participating in a painting challenge is a good way to get back into the painting groove.

I had a spare Prussian Zimmerman on hand, already primed, so I painted him as one of the Guards and will place him on the command stand when I get around to basing all of the figures.

The Color Palette Used
Here is a list of the paint colors that I have used on my Prussian Guards. The first color shown is the shade color and the second color is usually my highlight color. Sometimes I will use a third color in a triad, so where three colors are listed, the first color is the shade, the second color is the base, and the third color is the highlight.

Flesh tones:  

Red Brown   IWM   77-713
Rosy Shade  Reaper  09067
Rosy Skin    Reaper  09068

Yellow Breeches and Waistcoat:

Rucksack Tan  P3 Paint   93062
Moldy Ochre   P3            93063

Blue Coat:

Breonne Blue    Reaper    09055
True Blue          IWM      77-720

Red Facings:

Blood Red        Reaper      09003
Fire Red           Reaper      09004
Phoenix Red     Reaper     09005

I use various craft paints for the black and brown bits. Any item of equipment (gaitors, musket, hair, rucksack, etc) gets an undercoat of black paint. Then I paint the brown color over the black. I sometimes highlight brown colors, but recently I have decided that the musket barrel and fur pack look better without the highlights.  I generally do not do highlights for black paint.

And it goes without saying that EVERY METALLIC COLOR should have a black undercoat or else the metal doesn't pop visually. For example, when you paint a button, paint it black first, and then dot the gold or silver or brass color on top of the black button.

Whites and Greys

I use craft paints for most of my grey tones and any pure white will look good. I use one of the P3 white colors. For cross belts, use a light grey undercoat and then apply the white paint over the grey. White on top of a darker grey doesn't look very good because the color contrast is too great.

If I want a dirty white color, such as for haversacks and waistcoats/breeches, I use a mid tone of grey as the base and then use the light grey as the highlight color.

Shading and Highlighting

I use a two-color shade & Highlight system for most of my colors (uniforms and brown equipment). Sometimes I will go with the now-traditional shade/base color/highlight triad system, but in my experience, add the third color doesn't give you much of a payback in the look of the finished figure.

Mixing Your Own Highlight Colors

Sometimes you just can't find a suitable second color or highlight for one of your colors. In this case, you will have to mix up your own paint forumula. Start with your base color, not the shade, and add in a lighter color for the highlight. I don't use white for everything though. I have found that a light tan is a good color to use for the highlight mixer. Regular white will turn your red into a pink and you don't want that to happen. Brown and orange make for a good looking brown highlight, as does the light tan. The red leather apron on the Prussian zimmerman figure was my own mix of the base red brown color with a small drop of light tan.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Annual Inventory Counting Time

It's my least favorite activity in the Fife and Drum Miniatures: the annual inventory or stock counting. This is required by The TaxMan every year. The inventory count usually takes about a week to complete so I'm giving everyone a heads up that my response to emails might not be immediate. This might affect my ability to post blogs over the next week too.

All orders will continue to be shipped during inventory so it won't result in any order shipment delays.

I'll see you all next week.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Well, Did some Painting Finally

Sample Prussian Guards that I painted before Christmas. These are finished figures.

I was feeling a little better yesterday.  The sun was out, I walked the dog, and had a good workout with my trainer so I was feeling better. I visited the painting table and turned on Henry Hyde's Battlechat with Jay Arnold as background noise for painting. It was a three hour podcast and I painted for three hours. Note the coincidence.

I resumed painting the new Minden Prussian Guards in tricorn hats. I have 19 figures on the painting table and had done some of the color blocking in a previous session. The paint and the brushes seemed to flow like magic.

My messy painting table. The Prussian Guards are in the center.

I always paint a sample figure from start to finish before I tuck into the rest of the unit. This way I have the satisfaction of seeing what the figures will look like when the unit is finally completed. It gives me some incentive to power through the boring parts of the painting of the figure (blocking in the base colors, particularly the black- I paint all equipment and gaters black before applying the final colors. This is tedious. The uniform colors are as bad.)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Happy New Year?

British Grenadiers based for skirmish gaming.
Fife and Drum Miniatures

This morning I was scrolling through all of the twitter updates and it seems like everyone is starting the new year in a painting frenzy because the output of freshly painted figues is amazing. I tip my tricorn to all of you painters.

On the otherhand, I seem to be descending into the depths of a painting funk and I couldn't be bothered to pick up any paint brushes and start thinning down the queue of projects. 

I normally get my greatest painting production done in the early Winter. Painting usually keeps the winter blues at bay because I plan things on a month by month basis. For example, I might plan on painting two 32-figure battalions of Minden Miniatures SYW figures and so by the time that these figures are finished, so to is the month of January and we are that much closer to the arrival of the SYW Association Convention (in April this year) and Spring. Then I do the same thing in February; and the month of March keeps me busy getting ready for the convention.

Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI Highlander light company based for skirmish gaming.

I find that one good way to power through the painting funk is to listen to one of Henry Hyde's podcasts on Patreon

These run for two to three hours which matches perfectly with the amount of painting time that I spend on a regular painting session. I usually paint this amount of time and then give it a break for the rest of the day, sometimes adding a second session in the evening.

By the way, I would encourage my readers to click on the link (above) and visit Henry's Patreon site. For a meer $2.50 per month, you can sign up and become one of Henry's patrons. Think about it, many of you probably spend $2.50 per day on a cup of Starbuck's coffee. So one could simply divert the amount of one cup of coffee per month into a Patreon sponsorship. In exchange, you will have access to lots of good audio and visual content about the hobby. In a way, it is sort of like having Battlegames magazine back in an e-version, rather than in print.

This stream of consciousness posting might have the key to my exit from Painting Funkdom in it. Now if I can just get myself to my painting table something could happen.

All isn't just funk and blues in my world though. 

The past several days found me sitting at the computer keyboard working on a set of rules for SYW-era skirmish wargaming. I have been using my own "Croat Terror" skirmish rules for many years and now I think that it is time to get them published. I will change the name of the rules though, as anything with the word "terror" in it does not seem appropriate in this day and age.

I have done countless games with the rules so they are well-play tested. However, I am changing the melee system from a card-based system to a dice-based system, thus the new melee system needs some play testing before the rules can go to the printer. I am feeling quite positive about getting the rules manuscript completed soon and getting the rules published.


Things will eventually get better.