I had a lot of fun with the hobby in 2018 and this is my year end account of a lot of the things that has been and some things to come. I really hope that your 2019 will be great and I am really grateful for all of you who visit this blog on a regular or occasional basis. One of the best things, this year, is that the Little One is getting more interested and involved in the hobby – thanks Mate!
Also a big thank you to Nick Dorrell, who I did the Horka Battle with at Joy of Six in the Summer, also all the Twitter people (it is a very nice place to be, I call myself Per at Roll a One there), and all the fantastic hobby related podcasts I listen to in between the audible books whilst I try to put paint in the right places. These include, the Too Fat Lardies Oddcast, the Veteran Wargames, the Grognard’s Files, the WSS Podcast, Henry Hyde’s Battlegames (not strictly a podcast but he has done a lot of great ones this year), Wargames Recon, and Trouble at T’Mill.
I also regularly listen to the Meeples and Miniatures podcast and inspired by them the Little One and I thought we would do our own top 5 games we played this year, in no particular order.
What a Tanker – this is so much fun and it inspired me to do a lot of Russian and Finnish tanks during the Sovietic Summer Offensive 1944. I also did a List for the Finnish Tanker (see more below). A brilliantly simple, but not simplistic game, that I really recommend anyone to try (link to the rules here).
Bag the Hun – Provoked by some of the Twitter chums, you know who you are, but again got me a reason to explore some of the Finnish connection. The Finns basically flew the shit of the machines they had and painting those tumbling dice plane has been great fun (see more below). We only did a few games to learn the rules – we will definitely fly more next year (link to the rules here).
Maurice – we just pulled this out for our Christmas game but ended up playing another two games in the last few days. I had forgotten how good of a game this is, it really gives a very nice feeling of the larger battle with the cards adding that narrative feel and grand excitement to the outcome of the battle. I wrote about this battle in the last blog post (see here) and a link to the rules here.
Saga – we have had fun this year using the Second edition of the rules (see more below) and we recently got the book of battles that is a fantastic product – that could be used for other games than Saga (link to the rules here).
Mutants and Death Ray Guns – In the quest for rule sets for my Mutant 1984 project (see more below) we have had some fun games using these rules. Perfect for smallish skirmish (link to the rules here).
Next year we are looking forward to playing all of the above, but also a few other games:
Star Wars Legion – the Little One got a fair amount for this game over Christmas. Looking forward to see if the force is with us or not. I am not a great fan in doing 28mm painting because it takes too long and I am crap at it – so I think we have more than our hand full with this project.
Chain of Command – I want to finish the Swedish platoon write-up and do a few Scenarios based on the 1943 Swedish invasion plan made by Adolf Schell. Part of this plan had some of the lines of advance going through Dalarna (the county where I was born) in Sweden and it would be interesting to place some of the action here. I also would like to do some scenarios based on some of the fighting in the ‘Unknown Soldier’ book/movie during the Finnish Continuation war (I made some assault boats I really would like to put in a scenario). I also need to finish the Germans for the 29th Lets Go Pint sized campaign.
Other stuff – I am excited about the Rebels and Patriot Rules, as we have enjoyed playing Pikeman’s Lament and the Rampant rules. I also think the Little One is getting ready for a few more involved rulesets, like Twilight of the Sun King and some higher level WW2 rules. In addition I will do the final battle of the Towards Moscow Trilogy, Poltava 1709, at Joy of Six, but plenty more of that next year.
Here are a summary of the projects I have been working on this year….
Kirbekan 1885 – 6mm Sudan/Egypt Colonial Project
This project was started this year to try out Peter Rileys draft “A Steady and Deliberate Fire” rules. It has been fun to paint the Baccus colonial range. I will need to get some terrain together so I can have a go with the rules next year. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
Rapier Miniatures are doing some fantastic Glorantha stuff in 6mm and 28mm, I could not resist to get a few of their Bison riders. They painted up really well. Here are few pictures and a link to the relevant blog posting below.
WW2 Platoons, 15mm for Chain of Command (or any other platoon based game)
I painted a fair few Platoons with supports this year, including a Swedish what-if platoon (with some initial notes on the composition to do a list for Chain of Command). Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
I also did a full set of markers etc, to use for winter war gaming of Chain of Command. I especially enjoyed doing the patrol markers and the tall pine trees. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below. We have played a lot of games with these rules and made a list for the Finnish Tanker so we could play Continuation War scenarios. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
To Katie, Henry, Mike and Neil (I will explain later),
I have a twitter account Per at RollaOne (@roll_a_one) were I ran a vote on whether to do a Christmas game with Swedes fighting Danes or Saxons. Here are the results. Being Swedish I did not want to us to do a game without the Swedes on the table. It would have been a strange Great Northern War battle without them anyway.
So here a presentation of the forces and a short AAR with some picture of the Battle…
The Rules, Opposing Commanders and their Forces
We decided to use the Maurice Rules for the game and made two 100-pointish armies each. 1 unit is represented by 2 No. 60 by 30mm bases (a battery by 1 No. smaller base) – normally you use 4 square bases for a unit – this is 2 bases – the only issue is that the column formation looks funny – I can live with that.
Maurice is an excellent game by Sam Mustafa and you can download some information on his webpage, including a lite version that you can play with (link here). The rules works well for us and suits the way we play.
We have not done a what-if, instead it is a just a battalion level clash with familiar names of regiments for both sides, but with two totally fictitious Generals (quickly sketched up by yours truly).
I am using Maurice because I would like to do a little campaign, at some point, of the Swedish lacklustre efforts against the Prussians during the Seven Years War. This is a chance to dust off these rules that I think gives a fun flair and works for the Period. It is a card driven system, cards are used for activation and in additon can give bonus to firing (called Volley in the game), actions (charge, march, bombard, rally) or events can be played. You can also buy national advantages that gives your army bonuses. There is also a good campaign system, heroes (notables that work as supporting Commanders) and other stuff not covered here.
I made some notes on Maurice earlier with regards to the Great Northern War era (link to that blog post here). In addition we are using the special rules for stationary artillery and pikes (for the Swedes).
This is not a review of the rules and I will just discuss the set-up and the result of the Battle briefly, there are a lot of reviews and playthroughs on the net, as the game has been around for some time, that you may want to check out. I really like the concept and the card system. As you will see in the actual game we played it creates a narrative.
The Danish Side
The Danish Major General Schmeicel is a tired and laconic individual, but can cause some occasional spark on the battlefield. He is mainly an infantry specialist and have fought many campaigns in central Europe and his men are well drilled in firing – in accordance with the Dutch School. This places less emphasis on the bayonet and is highly dependent on platoon firing with a rippling of fire down the whole length of the battalion. His strength lies in a prolonged firefight again the inferior firing Swedish units but will find it difficult once caught in the melee. The conscript horse units are represented by Dragoons.
For the Danish side we went for the following:
National Advantage: Lethal Volleys – 12 AP (this to represent better fire drill than the charge oriented Swedes)
8 No. Regular Infantry (Trained) Units – 48 AP
2 No. Regular Cavalry (Trained) – 12 AP
3 No. Regular Cavalry (Conscript) – 12 AP
4 No. Artillery units – 10 AP
Improve two units to Elite – 5 AP (1 No. Cavalry and 1 No. Infantry)
A total of 99 AP, 16 infantry bases, 10 cavalry bases and 4 Artillery bases.
We are also assuming Stationary batteries for the Artillery (See Chapter 10 – advanced rules). In this era
Resulting in the following force:
Foot Guard/Queens Req, Regular Infantry, Elite
Grenadiers, Regular Infantry, Trained
Marine Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Frijs Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Arnoldts, Regular Infantry, Trained
Zepelin Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Staffels/Kragh, Regular Infantry, Trained
Viborg/Aarhus National, Regular Infantry, Trained
Horse Guard, Regular Cavalry, Elite
2nd Fynske, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Life Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Conscript
Bulow Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Conscript
Jyske Land Dragoon, Regular Cavalray, Conscript
1 to 4 Artillery Units
The Swedish Side
The Swedish Major General Stryptagh has risen quickly through the ranks and is one of the Kings youngest Generals. Keen to impress, he is rash and a fully aligned with the Swedish offensive tactical doctrine (Gå-På). He needs to get into contact as quickly as possible to win the day with superior shock cavalry as well as pike armed infantry units, hitting hard. The religious doctrine is represented in the use of clerics which is more to give an edge than clerics running around throwing incence. The cleric will be marked using individually bases figures. There is no difference between Cavalry and Dragoons in the Swedish army in this game, or in reality, the are all count as galloping shock attacking cavalry.
As elegantly described in the book “Vägen till Poltava” (‘The Road to Poltava’, by Konovaltjuk and Lyth) the Swedish doctrine of marching slowly and steadily, towards the enemy in silence, then fire a Salvo at 70 steps and then at 30 steps from the enemy, with no reloading, before charging in, was based on simple mathematics.
Here is a rough translation of the relevant passage.
“The Swedish method of infantry attack was based on the limited accuracy (spread) of musket fire and the time to reload for a new salvo. The spread meant that units preferred to shoot at the same time with many weapons – salvo fire – and hoped this would create gaps in the human wall in front of them, even though many shots failed to ignite or missed their targets. A salvo had a limited impact on distances above 70 steps (50 meters) – except against cavalry that had a bigger target area and were the horses reaction was more important than the riders. In shooting repeated salvos, whether they were fired by rank, platoon or by all, you had to wait for all to reload. The time for unified reloading has been discussed a lot and sometimes assessed to be at least one minute and up to two minutes. In a minute the enemy had time to march one hundred steps (75-80 meters) and run 150 steps. If the effective range for a salvo was 70 steps the unit that opened fire at a longer distance became a defenceless target for the opponent that calmly and steadily advanced and fired its salvo at a shorter distance and therefore with a bigger impact. The Gå-På method was based on this simple calculation.”
In reality it seems that the first and second salvos were fired even closer as the war progressed. It was very effective and very often led to a routing enemy at or before contact with no protracted melee. The horse charged in with a wedge shaped formation as was equally offensive and did normally not fire any weapons at all.
For the Swedish side we went for the following:
Major General Stryptagh
National Advantage: Cavaliers – 9 AP (Shock Cavalry), Clerics – 9 AP (to illustrate Swedish Determination) and A la Baïonnette! – 9 AP (shock infantry)
5 No. Regular Cavalry (Trained) – 30 AP
5 No. Regular Infantry (Trained) Units – 30 AP
Improve four units to Elite – 14 AP (1 No. Cavalry and 3 No. Infantry)
Also Swedish infantry are armed with pike and we are using the advance rules for Pikes (See Chapter 10 – Advanced Rules). Typically a third of the Soldier had pikes in the early Stages of the War.
A total of 101 AP. 10 No. Cavalry Bases and 10 No. Infantry Bases.
Resulting in the following force:
Närke-Varmland, Regular Infantry, Elite
Västerbotten, Regular Infantry, Elite
Västermanland, Regular Infantry, Elite
Kronobergs, Regular Infantry, Trained
Södermanland, Regular Infantry, Trained
Queen Dowagers Horse, Regular Cavalry, Elite
Bremiska Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Bassewitz Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Norra Skanska Cavalry, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Nylands Cavalry, Regular Cavalry, Trained
We then made our selection from the Winter based stuff, we used about 25% of it.
We fought the battle on the dining table, using a 3 by 4.5 feet snow mat I have had for some time. With the relative small forces at hand (and a base width at 30mm) this should work fine.
We drew the following battle field card.
Going through the motions of the card we find that we can place a maximum of 1 hill, 2 marshes, 1 rocky ground, 2 towns/village, and 6 wood terrain features (the red around marking around the forest number indicates that it is mandatory to choose some forest features (makes sense since the battles is in a woodland area).
Next was scouting and this is done by rolling a die each. The Little One rolled 6 and I rolled, yes you got it, One!. There are modifiers based on the number of units you have of the type on the card (regular cavalry and irregular infantry in this case) but there was no point checking this, the Little One won. He wanted to be the attacker! – it was what the Swedes did in this era.
We ended up choosing two town/village and a few forest terrain areas. The table was set up as follows.
In addition being the attacker the Little One was allowed an additional ‘mercenary’ units – we just added another Swedish infantry unit.
We then recorded our Army Morale values which were 17 for the Danes and 11 for the Swedes, this is based on number regular of units!
A little bit of shuffling and card allocation later we could start the Battle.
The Jingle Bells rang and we were ready to get going….
The Game got a thumbs up from the Little One. I have to agree, although the write-up perhaps gives the impression of Swedish onslaught it hang somewhat in the balance. The cards are interesting and the national characteristics gives the right Great Northern War feel we get from the traditional history books.
We had blast, but then we always do. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a really good Christmas if that is your thing, if not have a blast anyway. I will be back with some reflective stuff before the end of the year. That will be the normal review of the Year, from this/my blogs perspective (and there is a wide variety of stuff to cover), and some Crystal ball gazing for next year. Hope you will be back for that! The next big project is Poltava, with some 350 bases on the table (the battle we just presented above had 50 bases) at Joy of Six in July – it will be a spectacle. Here is a “nice” video about the battle from YouTube.
A sad but also, I hope, inspiring end to this post…
Being somewhat detached from worldly events at times, I totally missed that my favourite Danish Artist Kim Larsen died earlier this year, on the 30th September 2018. This was after a long battle with prostate cancer.
I remember many drunken occasions in my youth listening to his band Gasolin and have been listening to him since. I have included my favourite song below – “Det bedste til mig og mine venner” (“The best to me and my friends”).
This year I have also sadly been reminded of the issues of mental health within my family, friends and in the work place. I am happy that the awareness and understanding is increasing in our society but I think there is a lot more to do. In the wargaming community I especially applaud efforts from Katie Aidley, Henry Hyde and the Meeples and Miniatures crew (of course there are others too). They have all in their own way inspired me to reflect, consider and learn new things about these issues. This blog post is truly dedicated to them.
I let you explore the fantastic creative work of these fantastic people on your own, but here is a little bit of help for you to get started.
I had a Christmas Greeting from an ex-colleague who retired a few years ago, he said some nice things, and one part really made me happy “…working with you was a pleasure. And I noted you covered by back quite a lot”. He actually covered mine and many others backs all the time. It is what builds strong teams, friendships and people! Look out for each other!, … and yourself!.
I have done my first proper effort on the 2019 Joy of Six project – the Battle of Poltava 1709. As I have stated before it will be a full blown table showing not just the main battle, but also the besieged Poltava, the Monastery and of course the redoubts (more background at the end of a previous blog here).
I did a inventory of the Swedish miniatures needed and found (not to a great surprise to be honest) that I have everything I need apart from some Cossacks and the models required for the Poltava Siege works (I want to make the siege lines, siege guns and sappers, etc), as for the forces on the table, all I need is (excluding artillery and command bases):
41 cavalry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
18 infantry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
24 Vallack and Cossack bases (large light horse bases 60 by 60mm)
That is 83 No. of bases (and detailed below) in total compared to 100 No. of bases for the Horka battle.
I will do the same review for the Russians, but I already know that there will be substantially more work as the number of bases for Horka was 155 No. but I will need a total of 259 No. for Poltava.
140 cavalry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
89 infantry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
30 Cossack and Kalmyk bases (large light horse bases)
Now all these did not fight in the main battle, but it allows a little bit of a reflection as to the relative strength of the Russians vs the Swedes in terms of available resources in the area. It will be a busy table, considering that it is about 40% more models (however they will be somewhat differently spread).
In the interim I do know that I have no Russian Horse Grenadiers and I need 3 No. regiments of 4 bases worth of models, so I have been painting some of these.
In 1708, Peter the Great, formed some Horse Grenadiers regiments, taken from the Grenadier company of existing Dragoon regiments. It is a little bit confusing and unclear how these units were uniformed at the Poltava battle and how many were present, so what follows are an interpretation. In game terms we will treat these as a better quality dragoon units and I have modelled these on a basis of 4 bases per regiment. Note that these are from Baccus Seven Years War range (and not from the WSS or GNW range) – they are wonderful little models and you can find them here.
A. Kropotov’s Horse Grenadiers
I painted these in the most common uniform combination of the Russian Army at the time with Green jacket with red facings, this is a speculative uniform combination. The flag is green and I am thinking of making some transfers to add some detail to them (I bought some printable transfer paper).
G. Kropotov’s Horse Grenadiers
Again speculative uniform – I made them as above but with blue instead of Green, apart from the flag.
von der Roop’s Horse Grenadiers
Yet again speculative uniform – I made them blue coats with red facings and a blue and red Mitre.
I have given them an ink wash (nut brown of course, see below) and will base them up shortly.
/ Hope that was of some interest
List of the Swedish units required for Poltava 1709 based on a rough guide of one base of 9 models of riders per 200 to 300 cavalry (about 2 squadrons) and the same for base of 24 models of infantry per 400 to 600 infantry (a battalion).
Yesterday, the Wyre Foresters and I had the pleasure of presenting Horka 1708 at the Joy of Six. We have discussed the background to the battle before and I have attached a handout that contains some background on the idea of the battle, the rules we used (Twilight of the Sun King) as well as an list of the forces used on the day:
It could be useful to read this one before pushing on.
Following a nice family Saturday in the Derbyshire Dales, visiting the impressive Crich Memorial for the Sherwood Foresters Regiment and the nearby Tramway village, we went to Sheffield and attended the famous BBKBCE – Baccus Balti King Beer and Curry Evening. This is a chance to meet some old a new friends on the eve of the many battles being fought at the Joy of Six.
The Doors at the Joy of Six opened at 10am, but by this time I had been trying to set up the table since 8.30am. It took me a few minutes more – I always mess up some of the regiments in terms of placement and being pedantic with regards to these things knock-on effects on the schedule are inevitable. The mat worked reasonably well, but I had some issues with the sides and I may want to use some duct tape when I roll it out again. I am still in two minds on how I will do the Poltava battlefield next year as it has some interesting elevation – perhaps reverting back to boards or a mix of elevation pieces and a mat – I have a few more months to worry about that.
Having put it all on and taking a step back I have to admit that I said a little “wow”, and reflected on the fact that this is why I do this. Not to stare at an individual miniature being nicely painted (because that is not really my forte, but I do like nicely painted larger scale stuff), but to stare at something that resembles a battle when you take a step back – a battle from one of those many pictures the old man used to show me when I was a little boy and an aspiring General.
Admittedly not your average evening game weighing in at 12 by 5 feet, more than 3,700 miniatures on more than 270 bases – but at Joy of Six – why not! Here is Horka 1708. I dedicate this game to my Dad, who I hope is feasting in Valhalla!
The squares (65mm) are “Command Cards” – 5 for the Swedes and 10 for the Russians. I printed these on sticky labels and put them on MDF bases. It adds a little bit of flair to the game – I think – and also indicates the rating of the Commander. From Poor (+0) to Exceptional (+3).
The actual battle worked out great for the Swedes. The Russian left cavalry flank collapsed under the pressure of Major-General Creutz relentless cavalry attack on the other side of the river, combined with the strong push of the centre. The Tsar himself died heroically in the Battle. Surprising Field Marshall Rehnskiöld with the finest of the cavalry regiments was struggling on the Russian right. It was a decisive Swedish victory. In a re-fight setting we would probably consider making the Russian position stronger with defences and perhaps treat the waterway as more treacherous. So the next refight may be more desperate for the Swedes than this first go indicated.
However, for now, the Swedes won at Horka in 1708.
I will do a general update about the show itself later this week – but I actually did not have time to do very much. It is how it works out when you have table to attend to. There are however some things I need to mention, a few shout outs to people, the seminar I attended and a few of the tables that caught my eye (and I actually took some photos but only a few) but that is for another time.
/ Hope that was of some interest, a few more pictures of the battle.
Many thanks for passing-by, next year we are doing Poltava 1709.
Getting some questions on what we are doing etc so here is write-up for the handout we will be giving out on the day (some of it has been used in previous blog updates), it is to give the passer-by some information on what they are looking at.
The Battle of Horka 1708 – a what-if battle
POSTSCRIPT – I have provided an updated version of this in a later blogpost (see linkhere) – there is a downloadable word and pdf document that covers this and also show the forces and the commands we used on the day – I suggest you go to the other blog post and stop reading this).
The Great Northern War started in 1700 when a coalition formed by Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmak-Norway and Augustus II the Strong of Saxony-Poland attacked Sweden. The coalition were formed following the death of the Swedish King Charles XI and based on the belief that the new and very young King would not be able to put up an organised fight. Following Swedish successful expansion during the 17th century a lot of these neighbours wanted lost territories back, limit Swedish economic dominance and gain access to the Baltic Sea.
However the King turned out to be a skilled warrior and leader of men and the preparedness, quality and efficiency of battle methods of the Swedish army built up by his father was second to none during this era. The King quickly pacified Denmark and a Peace Treaty was signed in 1700 at Travendal. The Russians were defeated at the Battle of Narva in 1700 but then the King turned his attention to Saxony-Poland and Augustus. However due to a number of factors it took the King another 6 years to defeat the Saxon-Polish and force the abdication of Augustus the Strong from the Polish crown (1706 Treaty of Altranstädt).
But the King still had unfinished business with the Russians and the time had come to march towards Moscow ….
In the beginning of July 1708, shortly after his victory against the Russians Holowczyn, the King had reached the Dnieper river with the Crown Army at Mogilev (in todays eastern Belarus). It was, he believed, the last major physical obstacle on the road towards Moscow. The Russians had not made the advance easy as they had applied an scorched earth policy (the same policy that both Napoleon and Hitler would come to know later in history) destroying or removing supplies, burning bridges, withdrawing from villages, harassment of the moving army by irregular Cossack and Kalmuck light horse and dragoons, in combination with the constant rain (it had rained for about 4 weeks almost every day) that destroyed the crops and the hay and also affected the roads that further slowed down the March. The Russians would not give the King the decisive battle he needed. An army does indeed not only march on roads in knee deep mud but also on its stomach and there were still another 300 miles to Moscow – but as we know hope was on the way in the form of the column of supply and soldiers being brought by General Lewenhaupt.
“So once the Swedes had secured the area around Mogilev they stopped to wait for Lewenhaupt and his vital supplies to arrive. … Meanwhile the Russian army had also halted and encamped, as the next obvious destination of the Swedes was the city of Smolensk, the Russians occupied a strong position on the road from Mogilev to this city. The camp was at Horka, sometime called Gorki, a short distance east along the road to Smolensk. … The Swedes considered attacking the position but in the end did not. Had they done so it seem likely that the Russians would have stood and fought.”
from The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell
We know the King would have liked to get on with it.
“Charles XII wanted to march on and put further pressure on the Russians after their disappointing defeat at Holowczyn – the sooner the better – before they had a chance to recover.”
Translated from Katastrofen vid Poltava (The Catastrophe at Poltava) by Peter From
So in our scenario the King gave the order to break up the camp and “Gå-På” towards the Russian position at Horka and the Russians did not slip away. It is large battle for the period and roughly represent a force of 32,000 Swedes vs. 55,000 Russians.
The battle is fought on a 12′ by 5′ table using Baccus Miniatures from the Great Northern War and the Spanish Succession Range.
The Russian Army consist of 787 cavalry miniatures and 1536 No. infantry figures (excluding artillery and command bases) on 155 bases.
The Swedish Army is about two thirds of the size of the Russian Army and consist of 636 cavalry and 672 infantry.
Typically a base on infantry represent a battalion of about 400 to 600 men armed with musket and pike, typically represented by 24 miniatures. They are grouped in either normal units of 2 bases or large units of 3 bases. A base of cavalry represents two or three squadrons of about 200 to 300 men, as for the cavalry they can be organised as normal or large units. There are normally between 7 and 9 cavalry models on each base with.
We are using the Twilight of the Sun King Rules to run the game, The rules are, to quote the Design Philosophy notes, “…radical, some would say reductionist, in their conception. It is based on the premise that during this time period, morale rather than numbers of casualties was the key to deciding combat and even the outcome of battles. Many wargames rules pay lip-service to this; however, these rules take the radical step of collapsing shooting and close combat into morale. This dramatically simplifies game play but does so, in the designers’ opinion, without significant loss of historical accuracy.”
We are the Wyre Foresters and the Game is Umpired by Nick Dorrell who has edited the latest version of the Twilight of the Sun King Rules and Per Brodén who has painted the miniatures and made the terrain.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AND/OR WANT TO ROLL SOME DICE PLEASE APPROACH US – THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE AT THE SHOW.
We will be back next year putting on the Battle of Poltava 1709.
For further information:
Wyre Forest Wargames club: wfgamers.org.uk
Per Brodén’s Wargaming blog: Rollaone.com or twitter @roll_a_one
Following on from some discussions I have followed on twitter recently (@Roll_a_One) I wanted to write a short note about two things about wargame shows that triggered a little bit of deeper thought than I normally allow myself. Also helped by the fact that I have spent more time than I ever wanted on delayed trains this week and have had no chance to do anything practical hobby wise, here we go.
1. The Show walkthrough
2. Demo vs. Participation Games
The Show Walkthrough
I had the following amusing situation (well at least in my view) at Salute a few years back (it was when Nick Dorrell and I demonstrated the Fraustadt 1706 game):
“Do you mind if I take a picture of the table?”, a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera asks politely.
“Not at all!, are you familiar with the Battle of Fraustadt or the Great Northern War?”, me leaning in and hoping for some kind of interaction.
“Not at all!”, the man says taking a few shots form above and then moving away from me trying to zoom in on one of the Saxon infantry bases and his camera takes some time to autofocus (the lighting being unforgivable in the Salute hall).
“The models are from Baccus and they are mostly from their Great Northern War range, they are 6mm. Those Saxons are from their War of Spanish Succession range as the Saxons wore similar uniforms to the Western Europeans”, me moving closer and leaning even deeper.
“Couldn’t paint anything so small”, moving onto the Swedish side and taking another quick succession of shots and then a close-up of some of the cavalry bases, with the same issues with the autofocus.
“This is the decisive Battle of the Saxon campaign of the Great Northern War and as a direct consequence Charles XII managed to obtain a peace treaty with Augustus II the Strong of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin was Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. after 6 years of war”, me getting very excited and with sweeping arm movements I am set up to transfer this essential knowledge of history to the man with the camera.
“Sorry not really interested, I am just taking pictures for my blog. Do you mind moving a little bit so I can take a picture showing the name of the Battle”, he interrupted me, I moved surprising swiftly out of his firing arc, he took his snap and then proceeded to the next table repeating the procedure.
I put my waving hands behind my back and carried on! I reflected on the fact that he would never know that the marshland on the Saxon/Russian left flank was moss from my garden baked in the oven then soaked with pva glue, that the hedges around the field were made from green scourers, that the reason the line was not straight were due to a miscalculation on the available space between the two villages by the Saxon Commander, that the Saxons/Russian had been standing in their position for ages and were freezing their balls off, that the reason I painted the Russians in Red Coats was that they had turned their coats inside out to look like Saxons, etc.
I was interrupted in my thoughts as another a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera came towards the table. I got my lean-in position ready.
The incident above made me laugh and I reflected on these unsung heroes rushing around taking pictures of stuff not for themselves but to share with other people who may be interested but not able to attend themselves – it s a great service and sacrifice! So to the Man with the Camera – thanks for doing this and sorry for retelling the story in what may be confused with irony or some kind of bitterness.
I find myself invariably drawn into a wargames table (yes we are drifting back towards that kind of thing again) and I am keen to understand what is going on and very often how things have been done and how it works – I am kind of into this hobby you see. It is not always obvious and I like it when a table either gives a nice history/story lesson and/or gives a great game – I love it when it does both. I also like nice terrain and clever solutions mainly with regards to decluttering the table of makers and instead using inventive markers that blend in with the table – it helps the immersion.
It is a lot of hard work and research behind most of the games that are presented at shows and my best advice when going to a show is to stop and talk to people and learn more. If you are shy just stand next to someone who seems to be part of the group until they are free and I bet someone will start talking to you. Grab a handout and ask, they did not just come to show of their game as a flashy post card in an album of many – let them give you its soul and perhaps you will fall in love with it to. Perhaps you could share this experience to the world with a little write-up and maybe a picture or two trying to convey what you felt about the game as a whole – not just what it looked like. I think we need a few more Walkthrough Reflectionists too – the slow walkthrough. Beauty, it is said, is only a paint layer deep!.
Are Demonstration Games the Opposite to Participation Games?
Some groups putting on games seem to treat shows as an outing and any passers-by as a distraction. They face inwards and normally seem to have entrenched themselves with everything they need for the day within reach – they are there to play their game with themselves. Luckily, I think these ones are in decline.
When Nick (Dorrell) and I do our Great Northern War battle we do them as demonstration games, but you can participate for as long as you like. Perhaps to try out some of the mechanisms of the game, we never expect to play the game to its conclusion – although, as a notable exception, we managed to finish Klissow 1702 a few years back at Joy of Six. The game is there as a discussion point in our case about the Battle itself, the rules we are using, the origins of miniatures and terrain, how we painted it and built it, etc. We have roles – I talk about the terrain and the miniatures (having painted and built it), Nick does the rules questions (having developed the latest set of the Twilight of the Sun King rules), we both talk about the Great Northern War (both being passionate about it). Anyone else helping gets a role depending on what they know, normally they will keep the game going.
Some time ago I heard, or perhaps read, Richard Clarke (one of the Too Fat Lardies) saying that he does not run dumbed down versions of the rules at shows to make it easy – he runs his rules as they come. I think it is important to reflect on this in how you want to present your game. I have had a lot of fun playing some game specific rules in 30 minutes at many shows, but we cannot run the Battle of Fraustadt in 30 minutes with the rules we are using – Sorry! Therefore we need to engage in a different view.
They key with a show game, in my opinion, is that it is should be there to engage with others should they want to. Have handouts to give out or to refer to, bring some books about the period (it always looks impressive) or props. We want people to get a feel for whether this kind of game, period, miniatures used, etc is something for them. Scaring people away will not showcase your particular niche of the hobby and to be honest it is at your own detriment.
Demonstration games should not be the opposite to participation games – you actually have to work as hard, or perhaps harder, interacting with the visitors. What the hell are you demonstrating? It is your flippin’ job on the show mate!, you may not get paid but you are taking up space.
Let me know what you think!
By the way, you have a chance to see whether this engagement talk is just bullshit at Joy of Six next week as Nick and I are putting on a table. You are free to ignore us, come by and take a photo and just go, or to stay around and ask a few questions if there is something of interest, or even stay and roll some dice for a while. We are happy to engage with you at any level you want.
We will be putting on a 9 by 12 table with 250 bases of the finest Russia and Sweden had to offer in 1708! – Horka 1708.
Check it up here. And here some background on the table we are putting on, but there are 22 other games ranging from ancients to sci-fi and pretty much anything in-between.
“…but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.”
From about a week ago!
We have been busy with the Little Ones year end Rugby Tournament the last week so I have not been doing that much hobby wise lately. We went to Isle of Wight and had a blast – it is a wonderful part of the world.
I realise that it is now about 10 days ago since Salute 2018, so I think there are plenty of better places for an overview of Salute – I suggest you try Big Lee’s most excellent blog here. Alternatively, or as well, you could go to youtube and watch the terrain tutors very nice video of the show (press play below) – if you have not checked out his other stuff do that as well.
What follows are just a few snippets of things from my personal experience.
Twisting the Dragon’s Tail
On St George’s Day! 100 years ago the Royal Navy attempted to block the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The idea was to block the canal entrance by sinking obsolete ships – this to stop U-boats and light shipping from leaving port.
The game presented by the Maidstone Wargames society showed the actions of the HMS Vindictive that carried a troop or royal marines that were to take out some German Gun positions. It was a beautifully presented game and the ship was a thing of beauty and scratch built (using a lot of tomato pure tubes as sheeting material – that is hard core in my books – “What a we having for Dinner today?”, “It is another round of Pasta with Tomato Sauce!”).
Mission Command: Normandy
Mission Command is a new set of WW2 rules that promises to capture the essence of tactical and operational combat for company level to division level. It captures the way in which different armies (nationalities) operated in practice in terms of tactical and operational command, control and communication. It was a pleasure to have a chat with the guys. I found it intriguing – more information here. It is currently at the final stages of playtesting and a relatively inexpensive beta ruleset can be obtain through the link above. The game is Umpired and orders are given at the beginning of them game but can be modified. However the changes to the orders have to be achieved within command structures where the fog of war, imperfect information and confusion can cause unintended outcomes.
The Battle of Foy
Most of us remember this from the phenomenal Band of Brothers book and TV-series. This table was a joy to watch and the group presenting it was passionate about sharing their enthusiasm. I have a special place somewhere for snow terrain and this one was inspiring. The miniatures used were 20mm and it was played using the Bolt Action rules. The tall pine trees are made with the same technique as I used from my trees earlier in the year (more about how to make them here).
Tumbling Dice and another Diversion – Bag the Finn!
Paul at Tumbling Dice (link here) have a nice range of 1/600 aircraft and I bought myself a bundle of his nice aircraft that I want to use for some aerial dogfights between Finland and Soviet. They are very nice and they are relatively easy to paint them and it will not cost you a fortune to get started. I have some already that I used for Battle of Britain 1940.
I also got myself a selection of books from Amazon recently about the Finnish and Sovietic air force of the period – mostly second hand from Amazon at a not too heavy cost.
I will be using the Too Fat Lardies rules Bag the Hun for these (link here). The Scramble supplement have a little piece of using the Rules for the Finnish Winter War to get me started, but I think I will focus on the Continuation War period – those Brewster Buffalos looks far too cool!.
I was not going to but I got some of Lifecolors nice paints for this project (I got all the colours individually, from their paint set pictures below a part from the black as I thought I could get away with it!). This is a perfect on the move project as it does not take a lot of space – a handful of paints and a handful of planes and you can take off anywhere!
The only question is what playing surface to use. It would be really good have a aerial picture with good resolution of a winter land scape from above. Have not seen anyone doing one and I do not know where to get a good resolution picture from – any ideas gladly taken?
With some help from the Welsh Wizard, Mike Hobbs, we manage to order for a sufficient amount to get a healthy discount from Eureka (more here) – who did their annual trip from down under to Salute. They have a good selection of stuff and I got myself a lot of 15mm (some WW2 Australians with Great Coat and Russian Partisans) and some 28mm stuff (for my Mutant 1984).
I will show these in a later post as I have no intention of doing anything with them at the moment. Big shout out to Nic and crew – see you next year!
What a Tanker!
Too Fat Lardies were demonstrating their What a Tanker game and it looked great. Go and do yourself a favour and buy the book from here. If you need a little more convincing check out the stuff below. Had a good chat with Rich, Nick and Sidney – thanks for your time!
For more on the game if you do not want to take my word for it.
A video by the Lardies themselves:
Also check out these links for podcast whilst you paint your tanks:
The Veteran Wargamer (Jay) have gone Tank Mad in a wonderful way – check out his two podcasts for more here and here.
We are hopefully doing a game of What a Tanker this weekend using some 15mm German tanks vs Russian or American tanks – preparations are underway more to come.
However 6mm may be a good option and I spotted Baccus Shermans and Panzer IVs at Salute – they look very nice and the Sherman is due out very soon.
Michael Leck and friends, as have become tradition, presented yet another stunning table with a historical battle with a Swedish denominator – this time depicting the battle of Stäket 1719 (more here). This is a small battle at the end of the Northern War with with the King having been shot in Norway in 1718 and with the Russians and Cossacks terrorising the Swedish east coast with a fleet of Galleys (this was know as the Russian Harryings (Rysshärjningarna). The attack was repulsed but the Russians managed to escape without any damage to their fleet allowing them to continue their harrying the following year.
The galleys and the terrain boards (and a few of the miniatures) were made by Jan (who is another exile Swede living in the UK). The rest of the miniatures were flown in with Michael and chums.
As I have declated before Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago. It is always nice to see him and his latest stuff – he actually brought me two presents, a giant stag beetle and a Swedish king. Many thanks Michael!
How much is your collection worth!
I also had a nice chat and a coffee with good friend Peter Riley who is running the Wargamer Collection Calculator (I have discussed them before on the blog, here) that now features a wargames directory with more than 1,000 traders, clubs and societies – is your club on it? Their base offer is in effect a collection manager where you can log you wargames collection in words and pictures with some high level estimate of its potential worth – perhaps for the purpose of using this as a basis for a separate insurance of your collection. Even if you do not want to insure your collection you could perhaps use it as a collection manager. Registration is free. Check them out here.
…I think that represents a biased but still fair sample of Salute goodies! I forgot the Daleks, here we go.
Horka 1708 update – Swedish Infantry and Artillery thoughts
I have been working away with the Horka project and here is the Swedish Infantry contingent. 28 bases (compared to the 64 Russian ones, presented earlier here).
I am also working on Artillery and have come to some kind of compromise for artillery. The Russian used a lot of smaller artillery pieces – battalion guns. In the accounts of Poltava once of the key elements is the Russian Artillery ripping away the advancing Swedes, changing to shrapnel for the last 200 meters. Placing a few cannons on the sides, as is the typical set-up, where the cannons representing 8 to 16 pieces of something like are shown as two bases on the sides, that does not really convey the story. So I will use thin frontage bases (15mm wide) and put them between the Russian battalions to illustrate these pieces. It may be overkill from a ratio vs model count – but we can deal with this and having a quick glance at the way it looks I do not think there is a way back. More about artillery in a later post. This was just me getting carried away!