Saturday, February 25, 2023

Prussians on the march


Prussian musketeer regiment Alt Braunschweig marches across the chasm.

I made these "end cap" mountain modules to decorate the ends of my game table for the Sudan. However a little bit of greenery here and there easily transports the scenery into central Europe for my SYW battles.

The bridges over the gorges are natural places to park some marching infantry so that they can mug for the camera. In these pictures the Prussian musketeer regiment IR5 Alt Braunschweig regiment is marching across the bridge. These are, of course, Minden Miniatures Prussian figures.

A small piquet post of Prussian dragoons guards the road.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Charles Grant's Mollwitz game at SYWA Convention


Table layout for The Wargame scenario for the Battle of Mollwitz


I was searching for a scenario to use for my games at the upcoming Seven Years War Association Convention in South Bend, Indiana the last weekend of March. Willz Harley's pictures of his Mollwitz game, modeled after the Charles Grant game in the classic book "The Wargame", served as the inspiration for my games at this year's convention.

Last weekend I cleared off one of my basement game tables of Sudan terrain and replaced it with verdant green European landscaping and set the table top for the Grant Mollwitz scenario. Since this game has a bit of an Old School element to it, I decided to use my old and veteran Ian Weekley buildings for the game. These building models were made in the mid 1980s and are similar to what might have been used circa 1971 when "The Wargame" was first published.

Here are a few random pictures that I took of the table top to provide a taster for the look of my game at the SYWA convention:

View from the Prussian left flank (Prussians are deployed on the left side of this picture)
and the Austrian right flank.

Austrian general Neipperg and his staff ponder on what to do (for all the good that it will do them).

Austrian left flank

The Austrian Hammer - their right wing cavalry

Prussian center marches onto the table.

View of the battle field with the Austrian right wing cavalry
facing off against the Prussian left wing cavalry.

One of the interesting aspects of the Charles Grant (senior) Mollwitz scenario is that while the two armies have similar numbers of troops in the game, the Austrians strong suit is their cavalry (6 regiments) to go along with 6-7 battalions of infantry. The Prussians, in contrast, are very weak in cavalry with only 3 regiments, but their strength is in their larger infantry (10-12 battalions) and artillery (5 cannon models versus 3 for the Austrians) combat arms.

Given that the Austrian strength is lined up across the field from the Prussian weakness, that is, cavalry; and likewise the Prussian numbers in infantry face off against the weaker in number Austrian infantry, the battle kind of comes down to which side's strength will prevail first.

It appears that the Austrian cavalry should have an easy time handling their Prussian cavalry counterparts given the disparity in numbers (6 Austrian regiments vs 3 Prussian regiments). So can the Austrian cavalry run off the Prussian horse in enough time to then throw their weight against the Prussian left wing infantry? If the Austrians can do this then they stand a good chance of winning the game before the Prussians can bring all of their infantry superiority into the fray.

In most of the Mollwitz games that I have seen, the Prussians foresee what is likely to happen on the cavalry flank and so they draw up their elite grenadiers and heavy 12-pound artillery in a refused flank situation. Thus, should (or should I say "when"?) the Austrian cavalry break through then they will run into a solid wall of Prussian grenadiers and 12-pounders. If the Prussian players fail to seal off their left flank then they run the risk of allowing the Austrian cavalry to flow around the rear of the rest of the Prussian army.

Now while all of this is happening, the Austrian infantry deployed around Mollwitz must hang on long enough for their cavalry brethren to make their presence known to the Prussian center and right wings of their army. It's all an interesting match up of two very different armies and this is why I think that this is a good scenario to play at a convention.

Now as Charles S. Grant ("CSG"), the son of Grant pere has pointed out to me, his father's version of the battle is not quite historically accurate, save for the balance of the forces, if I recall correctly. The main cavalry action was fought on the Prussian right flank rather than on the left as depicted in The Wargame. So CSG has revised the scenario, incorporating information gleaned from his numerous battlefield walks over the terrain. The CSG version of Mollwitz now places both side's cavalry on the Prussian right wing and he places the Austrian cavalry a couple of moves away from the Prussian cavalry, which are caught in the act of deploying from column into line. Can the Prussian cavalry avoid being charged in the flank and turned into dust by the Austrian cavalry charge? That is the nub of the problem.

Both Grant scenarios seem to capture the essence of the Battle of Mollwitz quite nicely,  that is, the results of the cavalry melee will likely bear on the infantry fight in the middle of the table. If the Prussians can seal off their right flank from a potential Austrian cavalry breakthrough, then they stand a good chance of winning the contest.

I look forward to running several solo play tests of both scenarios over the next several weeks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

New Terrain Goodies (and all that)


Front gate house.


I recently purchased this set of resin 28mm German farmhouse buildings at a local store called Games Plus. It looks like it could be used almost anywhere in northern and eastern Europe. The model comes in five pieces, each with a removable roof: gatehouse; barn; stables; farmhouse; and an extra wall section. I have no idea what company makes this set, only that it is made in China (isn't everything?). I am fairly certain that these are not Miniature Building Authority building models, albeit they look similar.

The farmhouse, stables and barn can all be used as separate buildings on the game table. This will likely be my intended use since the models have a large foot print when used together.

Farmhouse in the right foreground. Barn in the upper center has the large dormer and damaged roof section.
The stables are shown on the left and the gatehouse is rather obvious.

Back to the Seven Years War

So it looks like I am re-engaging with the Seven Years War after a near-year-long layoff from the period. Seeing pictures of Willz Harley's  Mollwitz game on the Fife and Drum Miniatures Forum seems to have rekindled my interest in the SYW gaming. So my plan is to put on the Charles Grant Sr. Mollwitz scenario from "The Wargame" at this year's Seven Years War Association convention at the end of March.

I have most of the figures that I need to stage Mollwitz, but I am short a few units so last evening I resumed painting Minden Prussian Hussars and primed some Austrian grenadiers. A couple more limber teams yet to do that will wrap up the new stuff that I would need.

I had a recent correspondence with Charles Stuart Grant  (CSG) about the Mollwitz scenario and he reminded me that it wasn't historically accurate and that he had created his own Mollwitz scenario (Refighting History Volume 2) that did a better job of recreating the famous battle. So now I'm thinking of running the classic The Wargame Mollwitz in my first game on Friday morning and then running CSG's version of Mollwitz on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how the two scenarios compare on the table top.

I cleared off the Sudan terrain from my main game table (but left Khartoum standing on the back table) and set up the green Cigar Box Battlemats for battles in Europe. It took a little bit over an hour to clear off all of the 54mm Dervish, move the walls of Khartoum off the center table and over to the back table, and then set up my Minden Austrians and Prussians on the table.

My Minden Prussian army is set up for The Wargame version of Mollwitz.
However, the white coats across the table are my RSM French units that I set up 
on the table so that I could take pictures of that army (which is available for sale).

My table set up for The Wargame Mollwitz scenario.
Austrians on the left and Prussians on the right

Here are several pictures of my RSM/Old Glory/Front Rank French army. There are 12 line regiments and two light regiments. There are four each of 4-pound and 8-pound artillery with crew. The cavalry contingent has 11 regiments of 12 figures. I brigade two regiments together to get a 24-figure unit which is on par with my Minden Prussian cavalry.

I really really really like the RSM French cavalry figures that Dennis Smail (founder of RSM) painted for me because (1) terrific paint job; and (2) the RSM cavalry is a perfect fit with my Minden figures and I can use them with my growing army of Minden French figures.

So I have to decide if I am aiming to sell the whole army to one buyer, sell just the infantry/artillery and keep the cavalry for myself, or start breaking the army up into individual units for sale. Don't ask me for the 'star' regiment of the collection, the Grenadiers de France. Everyone wants to buy this unit. I'd only sell it paired up with several other regiments or for the sale of the whole army in one go. Make me an offer.

Some of the RSM French cavalry (eleven 12-figure cavalry regiments).

Some of my RSM French regiments (24 figures on four stands).

I think that these might be Old Glory 28mm French, expertly painted by Dennis Smail.
RSM artillery and Ian Weekley buildings.
Cigar Box Battle Mats

Saturday, February 18, 2023

For Sale - Thinning out my collections


These are 54mm Rot Wurzberg figures from John Jenkins Designs as part of its Battle of Leuthen figure range.

I am starting to thin out my collection of wargame figures because I need the extra storage space and a little extra cash never hurts. First on the list is a collection of 22 figures of Rot Wurzberg musketeers for the Battle of Leuthen. 

These are 54mm figures and are out of production. The command figures are rare and particularly hard to find. I am selling all 22 figures as one set, so I am not selling individual figures. These normally sell for around $40 or more per figure, so they are going at a discount in my sale. Selling Price: $500 plus shipping

Close up view of the command figures: 2 standard bearers, 1 officer holding his tricorn hat, and 1 drummer.

Close up view of some of the rank and file musketeers.

The Thinning Out Plan
I plan on reducing the number of war game armies that I own so that I can focus on fewer periods and scales. I will keep my Fife and Drum AWI armies, Minden SYW armies, 54mm Sudan and 54mm Romans/Carthaginians. These are the armies that I am likely to play with on a regular bases, whereas the other armies listed below have not been in play in recent years. Eventually we will be downsizing our house now that we are empty nesters and so storage will become a problem. I want to get a head start on reducing my collections prior to moving to a smaller house.

Bye-Bye Big Battalions
I sold off all of my Big Battalion SYW Austrians and Prussians last week. I had nine large boxes of the figures so this created a lot of storage space in my game room. The buyer is a local so I will still have an opportunity to game with these armies once in awhile. I still have a SYW British army that I will consider selling. Send me an email if you are interested.

Future Figure Sales
To provide a heads up on what is to come, here is a list of the armies that I will put up for sale in the near future. I have to gather up pictures and inventory what I have before applying prices.

RSM SYW French Infantry. These are based as 24 figure battalions. I will post more information and pictures later this week. I will sell individual battalions from this collection. These are very nicely painted figures, painted by Dennis Smail, formerly of RSM figures.

Late Romans and Barbarians - again, I will post pictures and information within the next week or two. My preference is to sell these armies as one collection. My recollection is that I have at least 20 barbarian (Saxons and Franks) war bands of 20 figures, or 400 foot in total. I will have to do an inventory of the barbarian cavalry and the Roman foot and cavalry. Most of the figures are Wargames Foundry sculpted by the Perry twins plus a few Gripping Beast metal figures. I painted all of these figures. They are individually based on 3/4" square metal bases that fit into magnetized movement trays.

There are lots and lots of unpainted SYW Foundry figures available. I will do an inventory of what I have and post the information on this block. I also have large collections of unpainted Eureka War of Austrian Succession Dutch and Saxons available.

On The Work Bench - New Stuff

On the work bench, some recently painted 54mm plastic Egyptian regulars for my Sudan project.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

In the Bazaar of old Khartoum

The local market place, or bazarr in Khartoum


I like to populate my wargame scenics with civilians and vignettes to enhance the appearance of my table top. Civilians are easy to find in my regular 28/30mm figure sizes, but are harder to find in the toy soldier size of 54mm or 1/32 scale. So over the years, whenever I see a figure that looks remotely like something that can be used in the Middle East and Khartoum, I snap it up as quickly as I can.

The civilian population of my Khartoum movie set has grown nicely over the past two years. By my count I now have 22 Arabic figures and 6 European figures that are appropriate for 1880s Khartoum. These are some of the figures that will be on display in my Khartoum! wargame at Historicon 2023.

A nice close up photo of the market stalls.

The majority of the Arabs are made by a toy soldier company called "King & Country" that is located in Hong Kong. The company was established in Hong Kong in 1983 by an expatriate Scot, Andy Neilson. King & Country. I have several European civilians from various sources that can stand in for some of the unfortunate ex-pats residing in Khartoum.

I recently found these two 1/32 scale market stalls.

General Gordon's arrival in Khartoum

The European ex-pats welcome Gordon to Khartoum

On the upper deck of the Nile River steamboat.
Gordon is in the center, wearing a red fez.


Departing from Cairo for the journey up the Nile to Khartoum.

More civilians in the streets of Khartoum. I particularly like the man with the houkah.

I am always on the lookout for more Arabic civilians, so if you know of any then please let me know.

I look forward to meeting some of my blog followers at Little Wars and Historicon. Drop by and say hello at the conventions, or better yet, sign up for my games.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Terrain Enhancements & Little Wars Convention

I have been tinkering with the terrain for my Khartoum! game this week and I came up with an idea to enhance the appearance of the city walls. The "Before" picture, below depicts the city walls placed on the game mat. The "After" picture illustrates some removable ground pieces (modules) that I placed around the base of the city walls. The modules hide the "join" of the wall to the mat.

BEFORE:  City walls without ground modules.

AFTER:  City walls shown with the new ground modules along the base of the walls.

View of the front gate with the base modules.

I used cork backed table placemats for the base of the modules and then I slathered a mix of premixed wallboard paste and paint over the surface of the module piece. I sprinkled some fine railroad ballast (Woodland Scenics) over the surface while the paste was still wet.

Let the piece dry overnight and then dry brush the surface with a light buff/sand color paint.

Painting Update
My painting mojo has returned and I am back to Dervish figures, working in groups of ten foot and 5 cavalry figures. I finished 20 foot and 5 cavalry figures since getting back in the groove.

I still have no interest in painting 28mm SYW figures.

Little Wars Convention April 27th to April 30th, 2023
Last night I signed up four games of the Khartoum! wargame for the Little Wars convention. The show will be held from Thursday April 27 through Sunday April 30, 2023 in the Chicago suburbs. I will run one game on Thursday, two games on Friday and one game on Saturday. This will be a test of my stamina for running a lot of games, basically by myself without any help, at this year's Historicon. Each game will have to 12 player slots so it should be easy to play in one of my games.