Sunday, July 31, 2022

ACW Game At Historicon


Overview of the game. Alex is in the back center explaining the rules prior to the start of the game.

I thought that the best looking 28mm ACW game was a refight of the attack on the Dunker Church during the battle of Antietam. Coincidentally, the next table had a giant terrain creation of the attack on Burnside's Bridge, from the same battle. Now I am extremely biased on my bestowing the honor of Best ACW Battle at Historicon to Dunker Church. Why? Because the game master was my nephew Alex. I introduced Alex to war gaming when he was a young teen and he has become an accomplished war gamer over the years. However, this was the first time that he had hosted a game at Historicon and I think that he performed quite well with his terrain, painting of figures (Perry Miniatures), rules and scenario.

The game table is set up. Rules and rulers are set out on the table for the gamers, and we are ready to go.
Note the colorful Fall foliage. which is awesome.

Nothing says ACW better than some snake rail fences. These are from Renedra.
Perry Miniatures.

One has to depict various corn fields in any recreation of the battle of Antietam and I think that Alex came up with a nice way of making cornfields. He used pipe cleaners, drilled into MDF bases and added a bit of ground terrain on each base. Putting all of the corn stands on the table leads to a convincing look in my mind.

Alex ran the game twice and I believe that the Confederates won both times. The victory condition for both sides was to capture or control the Dunker Church at the end of the game. The Confederates met that victory condition in both games.

We were short one player in the first game so I stepped in and commanded a battery of Confederate artillery near the Dunker Church. I deployed one section of two Napoleons on the high ground in front of the church and my second section was initially deployed on the high ground at the back edge of Miller Cornfield, facing towards the Dunker Church so that it could provide enfilading fire at any Union troops advancing towards the church. Out of nowhere, one of the other Confederate players grabbed my guns in the cornfield and trotted them down the road towards Hooker's attack. Huh??? I remedied that on the second game turn and turned the guns back around and headed for the church. There was considerable back and forth fighting near the Dunker Church, but in the end, the Confederates prevailed in this sector due to my exceptional skills as an artillery commander. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

In game two we had enough players so I hung around the table and helped people with any rules questions. Why? You might ask. Because Alex was using an ACW variant of my one-page Der Alte Fritz SYW rules! I have to say that the rules mechanics worked very well with Civil War era troops. Well, I would say that wouldn't I?

Hooker's Federals enter the Miller Cornfield to take on a Confederate brigade.

A long view of the table, showing off the total visual effect of the cornfields.

The famed Union Iron Brigade has a meeting with Hood's Texas Brigade.
Elite versus Elite troops.

Hooker's Federal brigade on his right flank decides to countermarch to the left, leaving an inviting flank in front of Hood's Texans.
I was baffled by this move.

At the other end of the table, a Federal brigade attacks Ramseur's North Carolina brigade down the Smoketown Road, in front of the Dunker Church.

A view of the Dunker Church in the lower left corner of the table.
The victory condition for both sides was to control the church by the end of the game.

I thought that both games were successful as the games had a nice pace to the action and the players were having fun. That's what convention war games are all about.

Oh, and there was that other game going on at the table next to Alex's game. Burnside Bridge with some very nifty terrain. They were using the Brother Versus Brother ACW rules by Ivor Janci.

Very nice looking terrain.

Good idea having a placard with the name of the game and the times that the game will be played .
One slight correction, it was not a Theme Game because this year's theme was battles in Italy.
However, that takes nothing away from what was an attractive game.

Cobb's Confederate Brigade defend the heights on the other side of the bridge.

Finally, I have to say that the Perry ACW figures are really, really nice. Alex did a fine job of painting them (he is a Golden Demon award winner for his figure painting) and I suddenly had that little voice in my year saying "ACW, you must do ACW".

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Sands (Mats) of the Sudan


Egyptian soldiers form a line to repel the attacking Dervish.
Armies In Plastic 54mm plastic figures that I painted.

Last week the Desert Cigar Box Battle Mats arrived, but I had not opened the package until yesterday. So I unpacked the two mats and laid them out on my game table to see how they looked.


As you can see, I really like these game mats. They are sized at 6ft by 5ft which allows me to cover a 6ft by 10ft game table. My table is approximately 6ft by 14ft so I plan on buying a third mat to cover the extended table top.

The coloring is infinitely better than anything else that I could make with either felt or canvass. The contrast between the basic color and the darker speckles throughout the mat bring the whole thing to life. There are also some bits of dark greenery that could represent scrub bushes.

Here are a couple of pictures of the mat on my game table. The figures are mostly 54mm plastic figures from Armies In Plastic. I’ve added 24 Britains Highlanders to the right flank of the Imperial battle line. The zariba is made from either dry moss glued to a painted craft stick or some simple clumps of brown lichen. Lichen is always handy in a pinch.

As with all game mats  one can place elevations under the mat or on top of the mat. In this particular set up I have placed my hills under the mat, but eventually I plan to have above ground hills that I will lay on top of the mat. Since I will use this largely for 54mm toy soldier figures, such hills will have to be higher than normal, perhaps at 8-12 inches in overall height. Pink foam board is available in two inch thick boards. Home Depot sells 24 inch square pieces which are perfect for hobby projects. I could buy a 4x8x2 sheet and cut it up, but the precut pieces will do just fine.

Dervish riflemen take cover among the Acacia Trees

Egyptian regulars defend behind a zariba made from nearby bushes

William Britains 54mm solid cast Highlanders.
These are some of my favorite figures for the Sudan.

This is around 325 plastic 54mm Dervish and Beja warriors on the attack.

Dervish come cheaper by the hoard.
Armies in Plastic Dervish figures in 54mm

There will surely be a giant Sudan game played in the near future. Bill P and I can field a force of nearly 900 Dervish / Beja versus around 300 British, Egyptians and India troops. The set up on this table has approximately 100 Imperial soldiers and 320 Dervish. I think that a 3:1 ratio of natives to Europeans sounds about right.

With respect to rules, Bill has created a 19th Century Colonial version of his big battalion rules and we have been playing these over multiple years. All of our group of regular gamers are well versed in the rules so our games play quite easy. I’m also interested in trying out my copy of Sands of the Sudan, which are a new version of the rules that Peter Gilder used at the War Game Holiday Centre back in the 1970s.

Who know, I might even take this grand show to Historicon next year, I’m thinking two parallel 20ft by 6ft table, the Nile River with steamboats, and my whole town of Khartoum.

It’s time to move on from old news, get back on the horse again, and start thinking about hosting convention games again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Historicon Goodies


I was well behaved during my various visits to the dealer area at Historicon this year. There really weren’t too many things that I needed to buy, but I still managed to find some trinkets to take home. My favorite purchase was the collection of Fall trees and the grassy knoll from Battlefield Terrain Concepts. They were well prepared, having perfectly sized boxes for me to carry home.

I bought a copy of the Triumph ancients rules that were used at the Trojan War game at the show. I hope to glean some ideas for when I write my own Ancients rules.

I added some needed tools for my modeling efforts. I’ve been looking for an Exacto chisel point knife for quite some time and I finally found one that was in a larger set of Exacto knives. I also bought another pin vise drill and a new Foam Factory hot wire knife.

I had these decks of playing cards made for me at Shutterstock to use for my convention games.

Brigade Games AWI militia figures.

Flag Dude Flags and some Loot Markers

Brigade Games had their new AWI figures on display and I bought enough to make a new militia battalion. The figures look like they might fit in with my Fife and Drum figures.

Other miscellaneous purchases included a Bag Of Bases (you can pick as many bases as you can fit into a plastic sandwich bag. I filled mine with mostly 28mm round bases for my skirmish games. Also picked up a dozen Spanish Dubloons to use as Loot Markers in my skirmish games.

Finally, I purchased a set of 28mm Dervish flags from The Flag Dude. These are really nice and he can size them to your personal needs, so I will be putting in an order for some 54mm Dervish flags soon.

All in all, not a bad haul of goodies, but I don’t feel like I went overboard on the spending.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Lancaster Is A Hard Road To Travel


(Join in and sing this song to the tune “Richmond is a Hard Road To Travel)

Would you like to hear my song? I’m afraid it’s rather long of the famous Purky road trip of trouble
Of my two amazing games, but nobody ever came,
‘Twas the very latest bursting of my bubble.

Tis pretty sad to tell about my trip to War Game Hell
Tis a dreadful knotty puzzle to unravel
Though all war gamers swore, when I touched Lancaster’s door
That Lancaster is a hard road to travel.

So pack up your figures, roll up game mats
For Lancaster is a hard road to travel,
Then pack up your figures, roll up game mats,
For Lancaster’s a hard road to travel I believe.

First Jim Purky, bold and glad, set forth the shortest way,
By the Penn. Turnpike in the hottest Summer weather,
But unfortunately he ran into a show with other plans
And had a rocky journey all together.

And he found it rather wicked to get war gamers’ tickets
And the registration system proved a bother
And was clear beyond a doubt, his Friday game was cancelled out
And Purky’s Saturday game hopefully wouldn’t falter.

So pack up your figures, roll up game mats
For Lancaster is a hard road to travel
Then pack up your figures, roll up your mats
For Lancaster’s a hard road to travel I believe.

Next came Saturday with another game to play
Marching to the room called the Commonwealth,
Just three players signed up to play, and the others ran away
And disappointment was so bad for Purky’s health.


Then Jim Purky had to hope
Some other gamers he could rope
Into the greatest skirmish game in all the nation
By such action he might cope instead of sitting down to mope
And he issued a famous proclamation.
But the HMGS computer, his game it tried to blaster
So the players could not find his wargame table,
So old Jim he joined his game and taught them how to play
And it was his very last appearance in Lancaster.


So pack up your figures, pack up your car
For Lancaster is a hard road to travel
So pack up your figures, pack up your car
For Lancaster is a hard road to travel, I believe.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

My Horrible Historicon Experience


My Wargame table set up.

Well, it’s Saturday night and I’m driving back to Chicago from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My wife has been in the ER since yesterday and it is a two day drive to return home. So I left Lancaster on the spur of the moment at 3PM after running my game that afternoon and hurriedly packing everything up to bolt out of town. I pulled into Elyria, Ohio for the evening at 9PM. I made the six hour drive without getting tired and Road punchy. The key was to stop once per hour and rest for 15 minutes or so.

My spouse has recently had some balance and vestibular issues and she had a nasty fall in our house. Fortunately one of the neighbors was able to drive her to the ER. I will see her tomorrow as I’m planning on hitting the road early and I should arrive home by early afternoon .

We had a power outage this morning, somewhat ironic because we are scheduled to have a power generator installed this week. I guess that The Gods decided to give us one last experience of a power outage.

Some pictures of my Historicon games.

My actual time at Historicon was a disaster in terms of the two games that I ran, one on Friday evening (which was cancelled by the staff without informing me), and the other on Saturday noon (only three players showed up for a ten player game). Both games had one room designated for my game in the program, but were assigned an entirely different room by the  computer system. Makes it hard to get any players for my games when show runner snafus are hitting me from every direction.

However, we made the best of it and we were able to cajol six passers by to play in the Friday game and I think the players had fun. I’m extremely grateful to these people for playing in the game.

Saturday’s game at 11AM only had three people signed up - this is in Prime Time for the convention when attendance is at its highest. I didn’t want to shut the game down so I became the fourth player and I scaled back the number of units in the game. Again, everyone seemed to have a good time and they all requested a copy of the rules which made me feel good.

Particular mention goes to Roger who played in both games. Thank you Roger. You are much appreciated by me. Also, my nephew Alex was a big help as he played in the Friday game and helped me take down the game and pack everything into my car so that I could bug out ASAP.

The good moments of the convention were really good and the bad moments were heartbreaking. I don’t know if I will ever want to return to Historicon. If this sounds like sour grapes, then yes, the grapes in my mouth are very, very sour. This all pales against my wife’s health. We have to get her back to her baseline of normal good health.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Getting Ready For Historicon - 2 Days To Go


Der Alte Fritz getting his troops ready for the journey to Historicon.
General and his servant vignette by John Ray. Other figures from Foundry and Front Rank.

I will be headed off to Historicon on Monday as I commence the two day drive from the Chicago area to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There I will meet my nephew Alex and we will visit Gettysburg the day before the convention begins. Historicon starts this coming Thursday July 21st and runs through Sunday July 24th. If you happen to be there then look me up while I'm running my games on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

My Historicon Games

I will be running my "Bread and Croats" skirmish game set during the Seven Years War. The Austrians and their Croat light infantry will be conducting a raid on a Prussian field bakery, which is defended by all sorts of second rate battalions such as Freikorps, Garrison, Militia and Jagers.

My games are as follows:

F19:301 at 7PM Friday - "Bread and Croats"

S11:29  at 11AM Saturday - "Bread and Croats"

I will be using my SYW variant of the "Woodland Wars" skirmish rules by Tom Kelly. The game accommodates 5 players per side. If the game is listed as sold out, then stop by my table anyway because sometimes a player or two doesn't show up and so a space opens up.

Alex will be hosting two ACW games on Thursday at 5PM (T17:271) and Friday at Noon (F12:147) called "Dunkers' Church". He will be using a variant of my one-page Der Alte Fritz rules with charts and troop types adjusted for the ACW era. I will probably be there table side to observe and if requested, offer any rules interpretation that might come up during the game. 

Working on Game Terrain for Historicon

While the game will be the same as the ones that I ran at this year's SYW Association and Little Wars conventions, I have made a few modifications to the scenario which should make it much better. I have also added some new terrain bits to the game.

First and foremost, I decided to add some hills as corner pieces on the edges of the table. The hill terrain pieces are "L-Shaped" so that they fit in the table corners and add a nice finishing touch to the table. They also act as a sort of photo backdrop that screens out the background.

Here are some pictures of the corner hill models that I made for this game:

This picture illustrates how the corner pieces "frame out" the game table.

I’m having a power outage so I will go ahead and post this. More later.


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Picture of the Week : SYW Russian Cossacks


Russian Cossacks (RSM figures on Minden horses) supported
 by Russian Hussars (Minden Miniatures).

Click photo enlarge

This is one of my favorite pictures in my SYW photo album. It depicts a vast hoard of 36 Russian Cossacks and a second line of Russian Hussars to back them up in the fight.

The Cossacks are RSM Miniatures that I have place on the more dynamic Minden light cavalry horse and there are probably a few Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI horses in the mix. I really like the way that the Cossacks turned out after painting them. The figures aren't encumbered with much equipment so they paint rather quickly. About the only thing that I had to do to prepare them was to cut lances (from North Star) and attach them to the hands. I place a tiny ball of green stuff putty in the hand prior to gluing the lance to the hand.

I separated the Cossacks into smaller groups of about 9 figures and paint each batch with similar colors. For example, all 9 might get blue caftans and another 9 will get brown caftans, etc. Then I go back and paint the trousers in random colors across all batches of painted figures. When I am finished, then it is a simple matter of mixing the different colored figures onto two figure stands which produces an irregular appearance to the unit. For example, a tan caftan and maroon caftan dressed pair of figures are placed on the same stand. Theoretically, no two stands should look the same.

There are plans in the works to add Cossacks to the Minden range of Russian cavalry figures. Stay tuned for more information.

The Russian Hussars are actually Austrian Hussars that I've "converted with paint" which amounts to nothing more than not painting edging and insignia on the horse furniture. Sometimes the uniform differences between one nation and another is indecipherable so your paint brush will make the distinction fo you.

The rest of this week will see me making preparations for my trip to Historicon next week. I will be running my "Bread and Croats" SYW skirmish game on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

So far I have just layed out the terrain mats on my table. I will add all of the buildings and terrain, next,
and then figure out how to pack all of the terrain into the minimum number of boxes
so that I can maximize cargo space in my car.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

New Pix: Prussian Red Hussars


Minden Miniatures Prussian "Red Hussars".

Click On All Pictures To Enlarge

I finished and based eight Prussian Red Hussars last week. This is but a fraction of the number of figures that the regiment will have in my wargaming army, but I wanted to see how the figures would look. The regiment will eventually have 24 horsemen organized into two "squadrons" of 12 figures.

Prussian Red Hussars in mirliton hats (left) and the Green Hussars in busbies (right).
A squadron of Bosniaken lancers hovers in the background.
The three units make a nice light cavalry brigade in a wargame army.

My inspiration for painting the Red Hussars comes from John Ray's blog. As many of you know, John sculpts his own exquisite SYW figures and Dave Jarvis brings them to life with his well honed painting skills. I liked John's Red Hussars so much that I just had to add them to my Prussian army.

You can find the history of the regiment by clicking on the link to Kronoskaf;

Kronoskaf - Red Hussars

The regiment's inhaber was Alexander Gottlieb von Seydlitz from 1747 through 1759. Thereafter, a gentleman named von Gersdorff assumed command of the regiment. The regiment was numbered 8th in the Prussian cavalry establishment so it was also known as HR8 (hussar regiment 8). They had the misfortune of being captured at Maxen in 1759 and thus assumed the bad distinction of being "one of those Maxen regiments" that King Frederick did not like. The regiment was not re-raised, but if I recall correctly, HR9 moved up to the HR8 designation.

One notable distinction of my painted regiment is that the hussars in an at rest pose with their swords resting on their shoulder. One could mount them on walking horses or depict them as being in a regiment that is held back as a reserve cavalry unit. While I like the energetic charging pose that Richard Ansell first sculpted, I had him make some Prussian hussars wearing mirlitons and busbies in the shouldered sword pose. This pose is my favorite cavalry pose.

Here is a link to the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store. The link takes you directly to the Minden Miniatures Prussian section of the web store:

Minden Web Store - Prussians

Here are the product codes for the new hussars at rest and the Bosniaken cavalry:

MPC-010  Bosniaken Command

MPC-011  Bosniaken Lancers

MPC-012  Prussian Hussars in Mirliton Command

MPC-013  Prussian Hussars in Mirlitons

MPC-014  Prussian Hussars in Busbies Command

MPC-015  Prussian Hussars in Busbies

On a side note, I want to thank everyone who participated in the Fife and Drum Miniatures July Fourth sale. Your business is much appreciated and the funds generated from the sale will be used to add new Minden sculpts to the product range. Russian Cuirassiers will be the next new figures.

Another side note, I will be attending Historicon in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this year. I will be running my "Bread and Croats" SYW skirmish game on Friday and Saturday. If you are at Historicon, drop on by and say hello. Better yet, sign up for one of the games.

Final note: the US Postal Service is resuming shipments to Australia and New Zealand so our customers down under can now order figures and expect to receive them in a timely manner. The several orders on hold are also on their way to Oz.


Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy Fourth of July - Independence Day


Happy Fourth of July Day to everyone. I hope that everyone is enjoying the watching of a parade, the grilling of meat on the barbecue grill, surrounded by family and friends, and finishing off the day with the watching of spectacular fireworks shows across the country. This is how we celebrate our independence from Great Britain, although I would imagine that many Americans do not understand the back story to our national holiday.

Be that as it may, for one day, at least, we are all Americans and there are no Red states or Blue states, just red/white/and/blue states. We may go to sporting events, such as baseball games, and when the home team hits a grand slam home run, we high-five our neighboring seat mate and pay no heed to the politics of the people sitting in the grandstands with us.

I started Fife and Drum Miniatures back in 2011 and focused on offering miniatures for the American Revolution. So it stands to reason that one of my favorite miniatures in the figure range is the iconic  Spirit of ‘76 vignette, which happens to also be part of the logo in my company.

Later I added personality figures for American heroes George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, Francis Marion and Daniel Morgan. For those customers who stand with The Crown, we later added Lord Howe, Lord Cornwallis (do you see a common theme here) and finally, Banastre Tarleton’s (boo, hisssss, boo!).

Nathaniel Greene

George Washington (left) and Nathaniel Greene (right).

Take advantage of the Fife and Drum / Minden Miniatures Fourth of July Summer Sale. We are offering a 20% discount on all items (except regimental packs which are already discounted). Visit our web store and when you check out with your shopping cart then enter the coupon code Spirit76 and the discount will be automatically applied to your order. The sale continues on through July 6, 2022.

Fife & Drum web store

The discount is available to all customers, even those who support the Crown Forces. 😆 

So enjoy your Fourth of July holiday, don’t overcook the hamburgers, and have a jolly good time celebrating the day with family and friends.