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Gearing up for Poltava 1709, painting some Horse Grenadiers & the Swedish Breakdown – Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT)

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.

Horse Grenadiers

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.

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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).

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G. Kropotov’s Horse Grenadiers

Again speculative uniform – I made them as above but with blue instead of Green, apart from the flag.

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von der Roop’s Horse Grenadiers

Yet again speculative uniform – I made them blue coats with red facings and a blue and red Mitre.

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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).

Unit Type Ref Bases
Drabanterna Cavalry S01 1
Life Horse Cavalry S02 4
Life Dragoon Cavalry S03 2
Småland Cavalry S05 1
Nyland Cavalry S06 4
Östgota Cavalry S07 3
Norra Skånska Cavalry S08 2
Södra Skånska Cavalry S09 1
Hielm’s Dragoons Cavalry S10 2
Meierfeldt Dragoons Cavalry S11 4
Taube Dragoons Cavalry S12 2
Duckers Dragoons Cavalry S13 1
D Albedyhl Dragoons Cavalry S14 1
Gyllenstierna Dragoon Cavalry S15 1
Upplands 3 männingar Cavalry S16 1
Skånska Ståndsdragoon Cavalry S17 2
Vallacker (light horse) Cavalry S18 4
Karelska Horse Cavalry S21 4
Livlands Adelsfanan Cavalry S22 1
Schreiterfelt Dragoon Cavalry S24 1
Schlippenbach Dragoon Cavalry S25 2
Upplands Ståndsdragoon Cavalry S28 1
Livregementet Infantry S29 4
Upplands Infantry S30 1
Skaraborgs Infantry S31 1
Södermanlands Infantry S32 1
Kronobergs Infantry S33 1
Jonkoping Infantry S34 1
Dal Infantry S35 2
Östgota Infantry S36 1
Västmanland Infantry S37 2
Västerbotten Infantry S38 1
Kalmar Infantry S39 1
Närke-Värmland Infantry S40 2
Kossacker Cavalry S52 20

 

 

 

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Mahdist War, Battle of Kirbekan 1885 – a little more effort (Part 2)

 

IMG_7060I recommend that you read the first part from last week (link here, that contains a little bit of an intro) as this is a rather short update if you have not already and if you are interested in the context of this.

I learned this week that Major General Earle who died at the Battle in 1885 is standing outside George’s Hall in Liverpool (where he was born in 1833).  A very elegant statue that was unveiled in 1887 by Lord Wolsey, the Commander of the British Forces in Egypt.

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Earle had started his career fighting in the Crimean War and fought gallantry at Alma and Sevastopol rising to the rank of Lieutenant.  He later served in Gibraltar, Canada and India. In 1880 he was granted his Major Generalship and was sent to Egypt in 1882.  Here he was the commander of the garrison at Alexandria.  In 1884 he was in command of a campaign (the British Nile Column) to support General Gordon in Khartoum (Sudan).  The city was under siege by Mahdist.  Earle and his soldiers did not arrive in time and Khartoum fell in the beginning of 1885.

 

On the 10th February 1885, Major Earle, and part of the British Nile Column stormed the hills at Kirbekan and routed Mahdist force.  Unfortunately Earle, as stated above,  was killed in the battle together with about 60 British soldiers, including Lieutenant Colonel Philip Eyre of the First South Staffordshire Regiment.

So, to hang on to Lt Col Phillip Eyre for a moment, this week I did the second large British unit at the Kirbekan Battle 1885.

The South Staffordshire Regiment

The regiment was sent to Egypt in 1882 as part of the invasion and in 1885 it travelled as part of the unsuccessful column to lift the Siege of Khartoum, but came to play an important part in the battle at Kirbekan.  Following Garrison duties it was later sent to fight in the Boer War.  I let you read more about the regiment and its further adventures during the Great War and World War 2 on Wikipedia (link here).

As I did last time I used the excellent Perry Painting Guide from their webpage (link here).  I made six bases (40 by 20 mm) with firing poses and six bases with Marching poses – as the British did a lot of marching and I fancy a long column of soldiers in the end.  Of course when I checked this out I realised that the South Staff Regiment and the Black Watch were ordered to wear red at the Kirbekan Battle – I painted mine with the grey/blue uniform last week – Oh well perhaps the Scots did not listen to the English commander, or I have to do another set of them in red!

14. South Staffordshire Regiment
This regiment and the Black Watch were ordered to wear red to storm the ridge at the battle of Kirbekan, 10th February 1885

From the Perry Painting Guide

Anyway, here is how the South Staffordshire gentlemen turned out (they are 6mm Baccus from the their colonial range, link here).

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/ Hope that was of some interest, next time I will do some Mahdists I think.

 

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Mahdist War, Battle of Kirbekan 1885 – making a start

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My friend Peter Riley who has written a number of Wargames rules, including the Polemos American Civil War (ACW) and the Franco-Prussian War (FPW), sent me a copy of his unpublished colonial rules “A Steady and Deliberate Fire” a long time ago to try out and give him some feedback.  Doing something and giving them a try is long overdue.

By the way Peter is one half of the Wargamer Collection Calculator Crew that I have talked about before on this page, check them out here.

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Screenshot from their page

In addition they are doing a Little Big Horn Project in 6mm that I have been following with some interest (here is a good starting point).

I did acquired a large amount of 6mm Baccus Colonial miniatures in a “bring and buy” sale many years ago and have wanted to find some inspiration to do something with them.  I did some colonial stuff using the Men Who Would be King rules for 6mm Skirmish (link here, here and here).  That was really fun and The Little One and I have had fair amount of fun table time with those.

Redcoat Infantry, modelled for Skirmish and the 1-2-3 basing, that allows individual figure removal (I let you figure it out)
From one of the actions, some Zulus closing in!

However, I wanted something for bigger battles – and skimming through the rules Peter had sent me last week I found the Kirbekan Battle in 1885 (link here) that would require about 30 bases to play on a 6 by 4 table using 60mm frontage, and with 40mm bases it could be played on a normal kitchen table, on a 4’6″ by 3″ table.

Battle_of_Kirbekan_map

The rules are extensive and although I have not yet understood them I have decided, as a little side project, to do the two sides of the battle and use it as a vehicle to learn the rules.  In future posting I will write more details about the actual Battle and these rules.

With regards to basing (from the rules):

  • a base of Infantry represents an Infantry Company, about 65 to 180 men.
  • A base of Cavalry represents a Cavalry unit of about 65 to 130 men and horses.
  • Support Weapon bases represent and group of 1 to 3 guns.

According to Donald Featherstone’s excellent Khartoum book (published by Osprey) The British General Earle had the following force available at the battle (the book also contain the typical Osprey 3D map of the Kirbekan battle):

  • The Black Watch – 437 men.
  • South Staffordshire Regiment – 556 men.
  • A squadron of 19th Hussars – 83 men.
  • A half company of Egyptian camel company – 47 men.
  • Egyptian Camel Battery (2 guns) – 24 men.

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This translates to the following set-up in the rules:

  • The Black Watch – 437 men – 6 units (bases)
  • South Staffordshire Regiment – 556 men – 6 units (bases)
  • A squadron of 19th Hussars – 83 men – 1 unit (bases)
  • A half company of Egyptian camel company (Camel Corps) – 47 men – 1 unit (bases)
  • Egyptian Camel Battery (2 guns) – 24 men – 1 unit (bases)

I thought I start with the British Side and from the top..

The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

The regiment was created in 1881 in an amalgation of the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot and the 73rd (Pertshire) Regiment of Foot (more here and here).

The regiment fought extensively in the Anglo-Eqyptian and Mahdist wars at the Battle of Tel el-Kebor 1882, Battles of El Teb 1884 and the Battle of Kirbekan 1885.  The regiment also fought in the Second Boer War.

As for painting them I consulted the very good resource on Perry Minatures webpage written by Michael Perry about the Sudan 1883-85 (link here).  It has a uniform guide that includes the Black Watch (the grey I have used is perhaps too blue, because I used blue).

Each base represent a company of men, I made them in Marching and Firing poses on 40 by 20mm bases.

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Next up the South Staffordshire Regiment, at some point in the future.

/ Hope that was of some interest

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The Roll of a Six that is Joy of Six

I have attended Joy of Six every year since 2011 and have presented a game on the show since 2012 with the Wyre Foresters spearheaded by Nick Dorrell (except in 2016 when Neil Shuck and I was running two tables of Saga in 6mm) presenting various battles from the Great Northern War.  We have done Fraustadt 1706, Klissow 1702, Kalisz 1706, Gadebusch 1712, Lesnaya 1708 and this year Horka 1708 (I wrote about that one in the last blog update here).  Next year will be a very special game for us as we will do Poltava 1709.  The Welsh Wizard called me Lord of 6mm the other day on Twitter, if that is so, then the Joy of Six should really be referred to as the House of 6mm Lords.

The show has grown over the years and so has the quality and range of games on offer. I know it is a typical thing to say, but I truly think the latest show was the best to date. I was scared about the move to the new location at the University but if felt like it was coming together nicely and I believe there is room to expand.  The food arrangements were brilliant.  I did not have/took the time to get involved in any of the other games but I took a few pictures that I will share (however contrary to my earlier post about shows – link here – I did not really do what I preached, but to my defence is the fact that I did put on a game). At the end of this short post are a few links to some very useful blog posts to get a better overall impression of proceedings – I suggest you have a look at these.

Shout Outs

First a big shout out to a few of the people I met up with including Commodore Rob, Pete, Dan, the Wyre Foresters, Derek & Son, The Wargames Calculators, Vlad, Mike (Welsh Wizard), Neil Schuck, “6mm Sceptic” Dave, Dave Luff, Trevor Crook and the Other Mad Gamers and Simon. Some of these I had only known through the blog or twitter and it is really nice to put a face to a name.  It honestly makes my day every time.  I have inevitably forgotten a few, and I am sorry for this as my mind was somewhat spinning during the day. It is after all a little bit emotional to put your baby up for public display, especially as I had not done it before.

The Baccus/Wargames Emporium crew (i.e. people involved in the event, spearheaded by Peter Berry but with strong support) are always nice to see and they do a hell of a job. Also to the Little One who hanged around the table most of the day and joined in managing the Russian Elite Infantry (Golitzins Brigade/Command). Also to my daughter who has helped at Joy of Six for the last few years and the Better One of Course.

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Speaker at the House of 6mm Lords – Mr Peter Berry

I thought the bring and buy was handled well and I managed to sell a few GHQ stuff, some board games I never play and even a few Flames of War StuGs. There were a mixture of scales on offer and some books, etc.

As for traders I think it is nice to have such a good number of specialised vendors in one place allowing you to see what the scale has to offer, traders attending were (with a link to their webpage):

Special mention to our new friends who came all the way from Poland, GM Boardgames, as promised here are some of the Polish Forces, including Winged Hussars, Pancerni and the Polish Camp we used for the Klissow and Kalisz battles.

Hussar1.jpg

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Dr Mike’s painting clinic could not make it due to some logistical issues which is a shame because apart from showing you how to paint 6mm miniatures, Mike has the warmest smile on the wargames circuit and was sorely missed by me and I think many others – hope to see you next year Mike.

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One of Mike’s many nice creations. Models from Rapier

Seminar(s)

The first seminar was about Baccus itself and what the plans are moving forward.  I did not go to this one but an overview is provided in one of the links below.

sem

The second Seminar was a panel moderated by Peter Berry, with three brilliant panelists being Neil Shuck and Mike Hobbs from the Meeples and Miniatures Podcast (link to them here) and John Treadaway who is the editor of Miniature Wargames (here).  The initial question was whether 6mm had a bad reputation, but I think the general conclusion was that it did not have a bad reputation but a low profile. Both the 6mm manufacturers, wargames press, and most importantly the hobbyists themselves have a shared responsibility.  What I took away personally from it, with my afterthoughts added to it, was:

  • Spread the Joy of Six – blog about it, write articles and send them to the wargames press.  John Treadaway left his card for anyone interested to contact him at miniaturewargames@warnersgroup.co.uk , and I suppose you could try the others too, you know who they are.  Nick and I decided to do a write-up on the Horka table and see how it goes.  With this blog I have tried to highlight some different approaches and uses for the scale – mostly mass battle but also space efficient and easy to set-up skirmish gaming.  As Neil Shuck says be passionate about it! It will shine through and people will get it.
  • Show others what we can do – take your stuff to other events – I have put up two 6mm tables at Salute.  It was a different experience than Joy of Six and the average interest is somewhat different but there is enough interest for you to have a good day and if it looked good at Joy of Six it will look good on another show.  We will make sure Horka get some other outings.
  • Enhance the signal by supporting each other – there is a 6mm community out there and I think we could encourage each other more and trying to do links in blogs, mentions on Facebook, retweets on twitter etc to make sure that we enhance the signal of the smaller scale stuff.  This hobby is far from a competition, it is a co-operative game – if you like 6mm it is in your own interest to promote the hobby on a wider scale – more interest, more sales, more ranges, more Joy of Six (these things of course applies to other scales and aspects of the hobby).

In addition the issue of taking photos of 6mm games were raised and I agree that it is difficult. However, what are we taking pictures off? – men or battles?.  Remember the painting from the last blog (here) – it provoked a life-long interest for at least one little boy I know very well.

poltava1709martin

Just a few Games (Sorry)

Finally a few games that I took pictures off.

zeeb
Zebrugge Raid 1918 – a very nice table and grand.  You may recall the excellent 28mm game from Salute covering the same raid (see more here) – this was a totally different spectacle and told a wider story. Presented by the Naval Wargames Society.
reveille1
Daniel Hodgson, who runs Reveille Studios and does a lot of fantastic 6/10mm stuff, inspired me with his Sudan War stuff at Joy of Six 2011.  I hold him responsible for giving me the courage and inspiration to put mine first one on in 2012.  This one being the action at Gilly 15th June 1814 (part of the 100 days campaign).  I really like they way he has worked the Kallistra bases.  If you need something 6mm beautifully painted I think you should send him a line ….  Daniel Hodgson on Facebook, reveille miniatures.  Hats off again Dan!
mad
The Mad Gamers always put on an interesting and beautiful battle – last few years we have seen 18th century stuff, Zulus, WW2 at Joy of Six. This year some Sci-Fi with a fantastic overall colour scheme and some pretty innovative terrain and some home-made miniatures (being, but not looking, cheap) mixed with some traditional 6mm sci-fi stuff.  Using Future War Commander rules.

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Had a Burger on the Way up to the Show at Milton Keynes, but did not know that their Wargames Society had this fantastic meal on their Menu.  This was Rome vs Barbarians DBMM Ancients – I really like that mass of barbarian warriors in the centre.  That looks like a proper battle at least in the way I envisage them.
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That is really impressive!

For a lot more pictures, click on this link to the Beast of War Webpage with excellent pictures and some commentary by CommodoreRob – https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1227711/

The cold war commanders put on an interesting battle fought in different eras – more here on the land of counterpane blog  http://thelandofcounterpane.blogspot.com/2018/07/joy-of-six-2018.html

Last but not least a very nice show report by the Heretical wargamers – I really like this format http://hereticalgaming.blogspot.com/2018/07/joy-of-six-2018-show-report.html

Hope that was of some interest,

/ Looking forward to the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The What-if Battle Horka 1708 at Joy of Six 2018

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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:

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Handout – word format – Handout – Horka 1708 v2

Handout – pdf format – Handout – Horka 1708 v2

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.

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The Battle of Poltava, 1726, by Denis Martens the Younger.  One of those paintings that really inspired me. It is the grandeur and the drama, Peter the Great in the middle front with his entourage fighting their way forward, the Russian camp on the left and the first Russian Line of infantry and battalion guns giving fire towards the oncoming Swedish force, the smoke, the intensity – just brilliant!

 

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!

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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).

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Here is the file I used for these – Command Cards – Horka 1708  (and in Powerpoint – battle of Horka commanders ).

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.

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Many thanks for passing-by, next year we are doing Poltava 1709.32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handout for Joy of Six 2018

Trying to get organised for the Joy of Six show…

Count Basie! (I hope it is all there).

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Packing some books

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Dice, measuring stick and markers

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Making the table stand poster…

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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 link here) – 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

Twilight of the Sun King rules: http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C18/Twilight/ToSK.htm

 

 

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Engagement at Wargames Shows and a final call for Joy of Six 2018

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

All the best,

/ Have a good day!