Monday, May 30, 2022

Playing Around With My Terrain - SYW


A view of the Man Cave at Schloss Seewaldt


I have spent a good part of Memorial Day (today) down in the Man Cave where it is nice and cool. Outdoors the temperature is a hot and humid 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the dogs out for a short walk and they were panting, evidencing that they had had enough and wanted to return home and get some water.

That said, I spent a bit of time rearranging the terrain that I have set up on my wargame table. I wanted to have the same terrain, but from a different perspective, so I shifted the line of troops from a horizontal axis across the table and set the battalions at a diagonal axis from end to end.

Here are the "before" and "after" pictures of the troop deployments showing the effect of the shift. It almost tells a completely different story.

The troops are deployed on a straight horizontal axis on the table.

The troops have shifted slightly to a diagonal axis on the table.

I added some casualty figures and smoke to the tableaux to illustrate an active battle engagement .

The view from the Austrian side of the table.
Note the staff meeting at the center edge of the table.

A closer view of the firefight: Prussian Jagers try to fend off the Croats who 
protect the left flank of the Austrian battle line.

The view from the Prussian side of the table.
Note how the Prussian diagonal positioning results in both flanks 
secured by villages or woods.

Well, it's back to the painting table now. Yesterday I finished the painting and basing of 36 Bayreuth Dragoons wearing the pre-1745 white coats of the Prussian dragoon regiments. Okay, I was going to save the pictures for a separate blog post, but here is a teaser of how the new figures look:

Prussian dragoons wearing the pre-1745 white coats.
This is the Bayreuth Dragoon (DR5) regiment.

I put the regular Minden Prussian dragoon figures on the more dynamic, cantering, horses from the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI range. The flags are from GMB Designs.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Pictures of the Week: Berlin Zinnfiguren Store


Please click on all pictures to enlarge.

Whenever I am in Berlin, Germany the first thing that I do is to make a beeline to the Berlin Zinnfiguren store. The collection of military ministers, flats and SYW books is one of the best that I have ever seen.

Below are a few of my favorite pictures taken while visiting the store in October 2016. I particularly like Baron von Munchhausen. I kind of wish that I had purchased this one.

Baron von Munchhausen flat figure vignette

Prussian Yellow Hussars flat figures. I was tempted to buy them but the price was beyond my budget.

A nice 18th Century coach vignette with flat figures.

The majority of figures on display are painted flats ...

...but they have a few figures "in the round" too.

These figures should give you a good idea of what the store offers in term of military miniatures. They have an extensive stock of new and used military history books as well. There are always a few hidden gems in the book section of the store.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

More SYW/WAS Tabletop Pictures


Some of the "Swells" taking a carriage ride through the town of Jung Fritzenburg.

Here are a few more of the pictures that I have taken of my growing WAS Project Austrian and Prussian battalions.

The armies are coming together for the minuet of war.

I posted the above picture on my previous blog post, but I like this photo because it shows nearly all of the units that I have painted in the WAS Project. There are seven Austrian line musketeer battalions so far that vary in strength from 32 to 40 figures. The first two units that I painted used standard Austrian yellow regimental and white colonel's flags that were used during the SYW. I believe (someone can check me out on this one) that the yellow flags started to filter into use around 1745, that is, towards the end of the War of the Austrian Succession ("WAS").

The earlier WAS flags have several varieties of flags. I like the red and white horizontal striped flag that you can see on the regiment in the lower righthand side of the picture. Several other flags have red and white rectangular shapes around the edges of the flag, compared to the more common "flames" pattern.

I have been buying my WAS flags from a company called "Pete's Flags", which he sells only on eBay. These are every bit as good as GMB Designs flags and they are available for both 28mm and 15mm armies.

Here is another village, located in the lower righthand corner of my game table. It is not shown in the panorama picture above, but it would be located just to the right of the Austrian battalion with striped flag in the lower righthand corner.

I haven't given this village a name yet, so maybe my readers can leave some suggestions (keep them family-oriented please LOL) for the name.

This village consists of three Ian Weekley buildings that were made circa 1986; one early Herb Gundt house (lower left corner of the first picture) and a blacksmith shop made by Ed Phillips. The cobbled town square is a mat from Lemak, a company that makes little Christmas village buildings and accessories. I bought the cobblestone mats from Michaels' Stores in the United States. I plan on eventually giving the mat a black wash to make the cobblestones more visible. I could dry brush some light colors over the stones, but I'm not sure how well the paint would adhere to a rubbery, unprimed surface that bends. The fountain in the center was also made by Herb Gundt. He used an old ECW Minifig for the statue therein.

Next we have a couple photos of Jung Fritzenburg. I already have a larger Alt Fritzenburg so I used a similar name for this collection of Ian Weekley buildings and Herb Gundt church. The church roof lifts off and I oftentimes place battery powered tiny white lights inside.

In the pictures below, we see the village center with several Ian Weekley buildings and the Herb Gundt church. Some Minden mounted ladies and gentlemen are riding through the village accompanying a four horse carriage (made by Ed Phillips). Facing the camera is the infamous Savage Swann Inn. A number of the locals have gathered in front of the Savage Swann to imbibe the local pilsner beer. It's a bit early in the day for them to be swilling beer, but who am I to judge?

The village is populated by civilians from a variety of figure ranges including Minden, Foundry, Front Rank, Perry and Blue Moon.

That's Jung Fritzenburg. It is a peaceful village for now, but things will heat up soon as the Prussians and Austrians have both set up camps outside of the town. A battle is sure to follow.

The Prussian staff officers gather at the wind mill. A number of them are trying to figure out where they are.
Windmill was made by Ian Weekley. Largely Minden Miniatures figures.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Prussian Field Camp Vignettes


SYW Prussian camp scene. The tent modules were made by Herb Gundt
and the figures are from a variety of figure ranges.


I have a large terrain set up on my 6ft by 12ft game table. I put villages and towns in each of the four corners of the table so that they do not interfere with a potential battle that I might want to have. For now, this is a display that I will leave up for about a month.

Here is a longer view of the game table:

The main village is located in the upper left corner. The Prussian camp is off-photo in the upper right corner. A smaller village and Austrian camp are in the lower right corner. The North German farmhouse is located in the lower left corner. I will be posting pictures of the other corner display areas over the next several days.

The above picture depicts my WAS Prussians and Austrians lined up on the table top. When I am working on building new armies, I like to set them up on the table so that I can watch the armies grow with each additional unit that comes off of my painting table. As the number of units grows, my enthusiasm level climbs, and seeing all of these new figures on the table inspire me to keep on with the War of Austrian Succession Project.

Probably 95% of the figures shown in the above picture are Minden Miniatures or Fife and Drum Miniatures.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Going Down To The Crossroads


General Greene calls for a staff meeting in front of the Savage Swann Tavern.


I’m feeling quite a bit better today so I went down into the Man Cave and set up a couple of photo shoots to pass the time away. Today’s fox is the meeting of some AWI Continental infantry meeting at a village crossroads as they march off to battle. 

Major General Nathaniel Greene has a rendezvous with a couple of his brigade commanders in front of The Savage Swann Tavern. The proprietor of the Inn, a Mr. Donovan, is offering cold refreshments to the gentlemen.

A brigade of Continentals can be seen marching off into the horizon. The soldiers are all from the Fife and Drum Miniatures range of figures. The civilians are from a wide variety of companies including Minden, Perry, Front Rank, Old Glory and a few unknown figures that I have picked up over the years.

I hope that you enjoy the pictures.

The buildings in these snapshots were made by The Master Himself, Herb Gundt. The table mat is from Cigar Box Battle Mats. The haystacks (aren’t they really nice and realistic) were made by a fellow who I only know as “Rick” who shows up at the Seven Years War Convention every year with his scratch built terrain pieces.

I rather like the Old Fool walking in front of the on coming battalion of infantry.
He seems blissfully unaware of his surroundings. Perhaps he has had one too many tankards of ale at the Savage Swann Tavern.

Mr. Rick’s haystacks blend in nicely with the printed wheat fields of the Cigar Box mat.

The 6th Maryland Regiment marches out of the town

I dropped my photo lamps onto the floor prior to the photo session so I had to rely on the overhead lighting in the Man Cave, augmented by the photo editing that is available in iPhotos. The lamps are broken from the fall so I will have to purchase a new set.

Whenever I do a shoot and examine my pictures, I notice little things that weren’t hidden from the camera lens, be it a stray group of figures that I’ve set aside to get them out of the shot, or troops from a different era that are sitting on another area of the table. When I’m composing a shot, rather than just taking a shot of a game in progress, I “wall off” the intended area of the photo with a forest of trees

There will probably be a few more photo sessions over the next week or so and I will see if I can weed out the mistakes and improve the lighting a bit.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

COVID Finally Got Me


The world seems upside down right now. Things can only get better.

It’s sort of like Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. You take all of the precautions to avoid getting the plague, but it still gets you in the end. I think that the culprit was a trip to the emergency room to get my spouse treated for some tick bites. Lot’s of Lyme’s Disease cases going on in my neck of the woods.  At any rate, there was a family there with a little boy and the fellow had a horrible hacking cough. We were sitting across from them and we didn’t move away from them at first; you know, I didn’t want to be That Prejudicial Guy. Stupid me, as Harry Flashman would say. In this age of Covid the prime directive is to look out for oneself first.  We moved across the room after awhile, but it was probably too late for me.

We returned home from the ER at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning and I probably slept in until about noon. Later that afternoon I started to feel a minor pressing sensation near my breast bone. That evening I could feel a sore throat coming on. So I went to my local CVS Pharmacy and bought some Covid home test kits and tested negative Saturday evening.

Sunday morning I felt better and the sore throat did not seem to be getting any worse, if not actually feeling better.

 Early Monday morning I felt like I had a bad cold - lot’s of wet coughing, nasal congestion and sore throat. I took another home test and again tested negative, but in the back of my mind I was thinking that regardless of what the tests were saying, I likely had Covid. Really getting tired and run down by the end of Monday. I made an appointment with my spouse’s doctor to get a drive through Covid test, reasoning that this would be a more accurate test.

The results were positive for me and negative for my spouse so we went into full quarantine mode. I called my own doctor and (bless her) she got me on a regimen of Proxlovid medicine. I slept for a good portion of Tuesday. At night I had to sleep propped up at a 60-degree angle so that “stuff” would not get into the lungs and send me off into a fit of hacking coughing.

Wednesday, I was feeling a bit better so the Paxlovid must be working. The meds do have some side effects, all of which I will not detail here, but one of them was that there was a metallic or bitter taste in my mouth for awhile after taking the pills. I thought that perhaps this was the “loss of sense of taste” Covid symptom, but it gradually went away. Spent most of Wednesday laying on the couch listening to WSCR sports talk and after getting bored with that, I watched some television and got hooked on some reality TV show “Master Distillers” I think that it was called. It was knock off of the Forged In Fire show on the History Channel. It starts with 6 people in a moonshine making contest and the contestants get whittled down over the course of several shows. It was silly, yet fascinating. It seemed that all of the contestants had to wear bib overalls, wear funny little pork pie hats, or have names like “Tater”. I did learn a bit about making moonshine and something called Cherry Bounce.

Watched a little Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals baseball, but the Sox still couldn’t get their offense rolling which means that it was a bad game to watch. Switched over to the end of Chicago Fire in time to see that Stella and Severeid were finally going to tie the knot. Chicago PD came on next. This is probably my favorite of the “Chicago” trio of programs that NBC runs on Wednesday nights.

When I went to sleep that night, I discovered that I had spent too much time on my back during the day to the point that my back hurt and so I tried different sleep positions. The hacking cough really took off during the night and wouldn’t stop unless I was upright, but I couldn’t stay upright because it hurt my back, and so on and so forth…  Finally fell asleep sometime after 4:15 AM this morning. We had a power outage at 6:45AM so my white noise machine, AKA an electric fan, shut off and this woke me up, much to my regret. Sent an OUTAGE text to the power company and an hour later we had power again. I slept until 10AM this morning.

 Feeling better this morning. One thing about my version of Covid is that one can’t get too cocky about thinking that you are feeling better, because as soon as you do, that painful hacking cough returns. I’m typing this blog post from bed. I have one of those hydraulic lift devices that raises and lowers the angle of the mattress at the touch of a switch. This is really the first time that I have even used this feature on the bed mattress since its purchase two years ago.

One thing that is helping me pass the time is picking up some of my Sharpe’s book and rereading them. I’m currently working on Sharpe’s Sword, which takes place around the time of the Battle of Salamanca in 1812. I think that I will read Sharpe’s Company next so that I can get reacquainted with Obadiah Hakeswell, whose probably the best villain in the Sharpe series of books.

I thought that I might be able to “go to town” on painting figures, but I just can’t stir up the gumption to give it a try. I’m always too tired to paint.

The Cons of Covid are quite obvious so I try to think about the Pros of the whole thing, you know, those unexpected nice things that can happen during the process; 1) I haven’t had much of an appetite so I’ve lost four pounds which gets me closer to my desired weight; 2) getting reacquainted with books; and 3) best of all having a new appreciation for my wife. She has been the best.

I just want to get rid of that hacking cough.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Bayreuth Dragoons in White Coats


Prussian Bayreuth Dragoons wearing white coats.
Minden Miniatures Prussian Dragoons.

For a long time I have been toying with the idea of painting a wargame cavalry regiment of the Prussian Bayreuth Dragoons (IR5) dressed in white coats. Yes, Prussian dragoons wore white coats at the start of the 1st Silesian War. I already have the Bayreuth Dragoons in my Prussian army, but now that I have embarked on a War of the Austrian Succession ("WAS") I thought that now is the time to paint them wearing white coats rather than light blue coats.

I painted a couple of test figures to see how they will look. I also used some of the galloping/cantering horses from the Fife and Drum AWI figure range so as to give the unit a more active pose.

Here are some pictures of the test figures:

I like the look of these figures with white coats and so I think that I will paint a 36-figure regiment of them with Prussian Dragoons from the Minden Miniatures (what else?) figure range.

I cleaned up and assembled 36 figures this afternoon and the first 12 have been primed, so that I can start painting tomorrow. My cavalry figures all get a few swipes of a rat-tail file between the legs and then I rough up the surface on the horse where horse and casting will be glued together. Before applying glue, I roll out some Green Stuff epoxy putty and place a little piece on the underside of the rider casting. Then glue is applied between the legs of the cavalry figure and the two halves are smooshed together. The putty fills in any gaps between the figures while also making for a better bond.

I should have the first 12 figures painted and based later this week and I will post pictures on this blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Picture of the Week - 18th Century Diorama

I forget where I found these pictures. They were probably sourced on Pinterest. These are 20mm dioramas shown at a show in Germany, where there is an active group of hobbyists who focus on dioramas.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

My Minden Mojo Is Back!


My newly painted Prussian regiment IR18 Prinz von Preussen

Getting Back to the 18th Century

I am taking a break from painting 54mm Punic Wars figures and getting back to my touchstone, which is painting Minden Seven Years War figures. It's been awhile since I have painted any of the 1/56 scale Minden figures and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to adjust to painting smaller miniatures. It turns out that it did not take me much time at all. Once I applied my brushes to the smaller figures, the joy of painting my Minden Prussians took over and I am now cranking them off of the assembly line at a rapid clip.

Today's fox is a return to my War of Austrian Succession ("WAS") "three ranks" project. I paint a battalion of 32 figures and the bulk of the rank and file are glued to their bases in two ranks. However, I then place the "file closers" ( NCOs, officers and drummers) behind the two ranks of soldiers and this creates the illusion of a three rank formation.

IR18 Prinz von Preussen regiment of two battalions deploys in front of a village.

The two pictures below show how the file closers form a third rank of war game figures.

Side view shows the placement of the third rank of command figures.

Note the placement of the 3-pound battalion gun on the flank of the battalion.

My New 3-Rank basing system

This newly painted Prussian regiment is IR18 Prinz von Preussen modeled in a firing line formation. My regiments consist of two battalions, each of 32 figures plus a 3-pound battalion gun with three crewmen for each battalion.

I am using MDF bases measuring 60mm frontage by 80mm depth. The size of the base provides sufficient depth to deploy figures firing their muskets without the muskets/bayonets hanging over the edge of the base. This provides a little extra protection for the firing figures from any handling damage. Plus, the extra depth of the base allows me to place the file closers in a third rank of figures.

I  used Hessian musketeers from the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI figure range because they look "close enough" to SYW Prussians and I do not have Prussian firing poses in the Minden range. I used product codes  HP-002 Hessian Musketeer Command - Firing Line and HP-004 Hessian Musketeer Firing Line. The firing line packs come with 8 figures, four each of leveled muskets firing and a second rank with their muskets in a "get ready for firing" pose.

I do have the ability to augment the Hessian figures with some individual Prussian figures from the Minden figure range, such as Zimmerman with axe, NCO with pole arm or with musket, standard bearers, and musicians. Since the Minden and Fife & Drum figure ranges are compatible in size, I can employ command figures from both figure ranges.

Battalion Gun Solution

I think that I have finally developed a solution to the problem of how to use battalion guns in war games. Rather than having the gun and artillery crew acting as a separate unit, they are incorporated into the battalion as the fifth stand and are kind of there "just for looks." They do serve a purpose though: in my rules a unit fires with a D10 for every four figures in the battalion. For example, if the battalion strength has fallen from 32 figures down to 24 figures, the number of dice has also fallen from 8 dice at full strength to 6 dice. Thus the more casualty attrition during the game, the fewer the dice that the battalion can use when it fires its muskets. 

Where the battalion gun comes in is that the cannon stand gets one D10 added to the total number of dice that are being used to fire. For example, a battalion has 28 figures, so it gets seven D10 plus one extra D10 for having a battalion gun attached to the unit. Once a complete stand of infantry figures has been put out of action, the battalion gun stand is removed so that the battalion no longer gets the benefit of the extra D10 in combat. In other words, the battalion gun firing has nothing to do with the regular artillery firing table.

Musket range is 8-inches in my rules and 3-pound light artillery has a range of 20-inches. I will allow the battalion to fire the 3-pounder using the artillery firing table provided that the battalion has not moved on that turn. So the gun is always moving with the battalion and does not stop to fire unless the battalion has not moved during the turn.

I never knew what to do with the battalion guns in the past, but I think that this solution works nicely while also enhancing the visual look of the battalion.

Next Up In the Painting Queue

I have a 42-figure battalion of the Prussian Garde IR15-III that have been sitting on my painting table, partially painted, for at least a year. I plan on finishing this unit next.

This will then give me six battalions of infantry for my Three Rank Army on the Prussian side. The Austrians currently have seven battalions of infantry in the Three Rank Army system.

Both armies will have 10 to 12 battalions of infantry at the completion of the project. I do not have to change the unit size or basing of light infantry battalions such as Croats and Jagers. The cavalry basing does not need any changing either, other than to increase the unit size from 24 riders to 32 riders (but these additions will be painted slowly over time).

This afternoon I primed 32 Hessian Grenadiers in firing line poses to join my Prussian army as the Bornstadt Grenadier Battalion (5/20). These will get painted shortly, perhaps slipping in ahead of the Prussian Guards.