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
A little bonus blog post because I think I am one behind my one a week average, but nonetheless a nice little story.
Some time ago I cleared out some of my books and a amongst the mess I found two old ones about miniatures from the 1970s. I had no idea where they came from but thought that perhaps Henry Hyde would be interested in them. Maybe he would even give them a place in that famous Hyde book shelf!
One of them had a nice passage saying that…
“Materials for constructing the terrain are very easy to obtain in the model shops. Quite simply it is a matter of plundering the lore of half a century or more of railway modelling. The cheapest and the best ways of making realistic hills, valleys, roads, bridges, cottages and the like were developed long ago by our fathers and elder brothers.”
Henry said yes and I sent them to him. They seemed to arrive safe and sound.
The next scene is a flashback to my more younger self and having just bought my first Baccus 6mm GNW models. I was frantically looking for some guidance on how to paint them. A friend of mine gave me a some sheets of paper he had ripped out of a Battlegames magazine – the painting guide was of course overkill for the scale but this was my guiding star for those very first 6mm I painted.
Anyway and zooming back to more or less the present time and a few days after this a little box arrived from Henry and I could not believe my eyes when two very familiar gentlemen were in it.
They are now on permanent guard duty protecting my Great Northern War books.
A few notes:
The article “A brush with musketeers” can be found in the Battlegames Magazine, issue 7, and was written by Dave Robotham who also painted the miniatures. The miniatures are from the old Musketeer range sculpted by Bill Thornhill (not sure what happened to them?).
Henry Hyde is of course that guy who wrote the Wargames Compendium, edited Battlegames and Miniature Wargames amongst other things, and is now running a Patreon project (is that what you call it?) where you could join in – Battlegames the Spirit of Wargaming! There is a link to it here for you to check out.
Thanks again Henry!
In other news I have been doing some flight stands (completed some more planes) and ordered a hex mat for my winter and continuation war project. Here are some pictures. Links to previous postings on this subject can be found here and here.
Will write more about this project once the mat arrives.
“…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!
I am currently spending a lot of hobby time finalising bases for the Horka 1708 project that will be presented at the 6mm show Joy of Six in July this year (a link to the webpage here). This will be my 6th year of putting a game on (2012 GNW Fraustadt 1706, 2013 GNW Klissow 1702, 2014 GNW Kalisz 1706, 2015 GNW Gadebusch 1712, 2016 Saga in 6mm, 2017 GNW Lesnaya 1708 and Dragon Rampant in 6mm). It is my favourite show of the year because it showcases what can be done in this scale and what is available as a lot of the 6mm miniature and terrain/building traders are in attendance. I suggest you check it out and get yourself to Sheffield this Summer (15th July).
I tend to move big chunks of works forward at the same time rather than completing say 4 bases and moving on to the next 4 set of bases. I used to do it in incremental steps, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to complete a big project/campaign by winning small victories on the way. I still get a kick of a completed base and how that seemingly randomless drybrushing on top of the brown base, in combination with the static grass creates that little illusion that puts the models in some kind of bigger context!
However, my current small victories are all the other diversions (Gaslands, Winter War, Mutant 1984, etc.) whilst I slog away with the big one. At times these diversions takes me away from the main mission for weeks. But I have to admit that it does not take much to get me back to the Great Northern war period. This final futile grasp of Sweden as a Great Power and the great battles, tragedies and personalities it contains. I know how it all ends, but it still blows me away and there is so much more to find out.
On that note (and I have mentioned a few before) check out Helion Company’s Century of the Soldier series that have a lot of upcoming books for the Great Northern War in particular but so much more. Link to Helion here. Give them a visit and get yourself some cool books. I am really pleased to see Great Northern war books in English and anyone who is doing them will certainly sell me a copy – but also gets a shout out.
Here are a few of the titles I am looking forward to (various release dates):
I am currently (re-)reading another one from the Century of the Soldier series about the Pruth campaign that was released a at the end of January this year (incidentally, as Nick wrote it I had read the initial draft, but had not seen the bespoke drawings of troop types of the two sides and re-enactment pictures of Russian soldiers – and I really enjoyed it). I discussed this book here that formed the basis for a little skirmish side project using Pikeman’s Lament (see more here, here and here). However this campaign lends itself to bigger battles. Think about the mixture of differing troop types with the colourful Ottoman army of the period on one side againt the more westernized Russian army with Kalmucks, Tartars and Cossack support on the other – what a spectacle. [editor notes: At this note he drifts away into that la la land again, planning battles and setting up painting progress spreadsheets again].
In 1711 Peter the Great, the Tsar of Russia, led a large army of veterans from Poltava and his other Great Northern War victories into the Balkans. He aimed to humble the Ottomans in the same way he had the Swedes a few years before. Victory would secure useful allies in the Balkans, cement Russia’s ‘Great Power’ status and offer Peter the opportunity to finally gain control over the Swedish king, Charles XII, thus completing his victory over Sweden. Yet within a few months, the ‘backward’ Ottomans had forced the Tsar and his Tsarina and their army of veterans into a humbling surrender near the Pruth River. The war was the first time that Russia was strong enough to confront the Ottomans independently rather than as a member of an alliance. It marked an important stage in Russia’s development. However, it also showed the significant military strength of the Ottoman Empire and the limitations of Peter the Great’s achievements. The war was of significance to the allies of both the Russians and the Ottomans. It was of course of an even greater importance to all those directly affected by the war such as the Swedish, the Polish, and the Cossacks, who had taken refuge from the reverses of the Great Northern War in the Ottoman territory. It would also bring about the defeat of the Moldavian and Walachian ambitions to shake off the Ottoman overlordship, elevating Dimitrie Cantemir into the position of a national hero celebrated to this day by the people of Romania. The book looks at the causes of this little known war and its course. Using contemporary and modern sources it examines in detail the forces involved in the conflict, seeking to determine their size, actual composition, and tactics, offering the first realistic determination on the subject in English.
So how am I getting on with the Horka project, then?. I actually did not know until recently as my notes were a little bit here, there and everywhere. So I opened up a spreadsheet and did an inventory and counted the models I had to date. Here is a summary of where the painting is at expressed as percentage complete (then there is basing etc, but since that is relatively quick I am only interested at this stage on whether I have enough painted lead or not!):
Swedish Infantry (672 foot) – 57% (16 of 28 bases done)
Swedish Cavalry (648 riders) – 96% (69 of 72 bases done)
Overall – 90% complete (230 bases of 255 are now in painted condition) – over 3,500 miniature . When I counted it all up I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that I had so little left to do. It is the largest amount of bases I have ever put on a table to date. The picture below show the two armies spread on a 12 foot (3.6m) table (the middle white and blue ruler shows 1 feet increments). Both have a 8 foot frontage (2.4m) and the Russian one is mostly 4 bases deep. I think it will be worth the Joy of Six ticket just to see that – but then I am somewhat biased with regards to tricorne hats (and Karpuses).
Then there is artillery and leaders but I have not yet checked whether I need to do any more than what I already have available from previous projects. I am going to have a little chat with Nick Dorrell on the likely composition of the artillery at this stage of the campaign – I will have a view and he will correct it.
Here is a photo of the work in progress – or work in a mess more like it!
I would like to do a shout out for Tiny Tin Troops that amongst many things do flags (web page here) – I found their Russian GNW flags especially useful for my project. With so much infantry a lot of flags are required and although you could do them yourself it can be time consuming of to recolour images, etc.
They compliment the Baccus sheets I have used up nicely (link here) – order the 8mm version (this is not the scale but the height of the flag) – link here. Nice and pleasant to deal with.
Their range of flags covers Crusades, Flodden, ECW, Ireland 1690, GNW, WSS, 7YW, Napoleonic, Armada Naval and they also have some WW2 Posters (for 6-28mm figs).
There is a painting gallery there that you may find fascinating if you are into the period, especially these. This is from the time TTT had a painting service – inspiration stuff!
As for the Terrain I will not start the terrain mat (5 by 12 feet) until the weather gets more stable as I ideally need a good few sunny days – lacking in space and inspiration to do it on a gloomy day. This is normally the last thing I do anyway so I do not expect this to be done until end of May or June.
I will need to start worrying about the real estate that I will need for Horka itself and the Villages around it. The Better one got me a nice bunch of Eastern European buildings (mostly churches) following my thoughts on the Monastery at Poltava (more here) that I need to paint up as well. I have some buildings already so I do not see this as a major effort.
Overall it is all in hand.
I also got the latest Saga Rules and the Viking supplement and they are nice products indeed. I am coming up towards the 100th blogpost (having done an average of 1 post a week since I started) and I would like that particular one to be about Saga v2 in 6mm as a homage to the very first blog post Saga in 6mm (link here). Planning to run a few games with the models I already have (I made 12 starter factions so I do not think I need to paint any more at the moment).
Some of the changes I noted so far are:
Warlords have changed significantly with regards to the special abilities.
Levy units generate Saga dice (if they are 6 or more models on the table).
Warrior units reduced to less than 4 models do not give you Saga dice. This avoids the potential of a 1 man warrior unit being held back to spawn saga dice.
If you are far away from an enemy you can move a unit for free as a first activation.
Some simplification of fatigue, combat and movement rules
I got the basic rule book for £8.50 (this contains the basic rules) and the Viking supplement (this has the Viking factions and the battleboards) for £25.50, which I believe is very competitive, from Dark Sphere (link here) with free postage.
I have all the old Saga books and I am aware this version will probably not blow me away in the same way as the first set, but it is on the basis of that very first set I bought the second edition. Saga is a fantastic game and I, and especially the Little One, want to be part of the ongoing process of making it even better.
So we are, for sure, dusting of the cobweb of the warbands (that was used for the Original Saga rules and have been stand in for some games of Too Fat Lardies Dux Britanniarum games). The Little One is smiling – the Big One too.
Here are a few shots of the Saga stuff (all based on 25mm square bases) as we felt obliged to stare at it for a few minutes.
Horka 1708 – Notes on Russians and the Field of Battle
I presented the Swedish army I would need for the Horka 1708 battle two weeks ago and gave a little background to this what-if battle (it may help if you have not read the previous entry if you start here). For the Swedes we basically assume it is the same army that set out from Grodno in the beginning of 1708 that will fight at Horka – yes in all fairness the body of men should perhaps be reduced to allow for the attrition effect of an army on the march (illness, skirmish casualties, desertions, etc.). For the Russians at Horka, Nick provides information in his book (The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell, link here) on the likely composition for the infantry based on available sources (a few assumptions have been made based on this detail to produce the army list, also note that this may change as we move forward, but I want to have a list to work from in completing the miniatures – I will also need all of them for the upcoming Poltava battle so doing them will not be a waste). For the Russian cavalry we assume a similar composition to that of the Battle of Holowczyn.
The full list of units for the Russians I will be working on are presented at the end of this post.
Below is the illustration from Nick’s book, showing the Russian position at Horka, this will be used as a basis for making the table.
The next sequence of pictures show at high level how I derived the map (Call it Horka 1.0).
Still finalising batches of painting so not much to see here, hurry along… and moving swiftly over to something else.
GNW Books and Scenarios
Over the years I have met many people in the UK who are interested in the Great Northern War but struggle to find decent books on the subject in English (apart from the usual suspects like Peter Englunds fantastic book on Poltava, the Massie book on Peter the Great, or the Osprey Poltava book) – this is a shame and I wish more books were available. At the SELWG show last week I had a few discussions along these lines with a few old and new friends. For example, I think Oskar Sjöström’s book on the Battle of Fraustadt 1706 (link to it here) is an amazing book and ought to be available in English. It won the best Swedish history book of 2008 and is an absolute gem – it inspired me enough to paint thousands of 6mm soldiers with winter bases for my first Joy of Six outing many years ago whilst listening to Sabaton’s Carolus Rex album.
“At Fraustadt the Swedish forces faced An army almost twice its size. And on that day we showed the world not only Our superiority in battle but also How cruel man can be. Frozen ground, Ride with the wind Emerge from the gunsmoke like demons Rehnskiöld’s men Charging their flanks The enemy trembles with fear”
From the Song Killing Ground by Sabaton, from the Carolus Rex Album (2012)
The recent two-part Great Northern War Compendium was a very welcome addition, not just for the English reader but for anyone interested in this period, and is a fantastic set. I think you can still get copies of it from Caliver books – it is expensive and I doubt it will go down in price once the print-run has sold out.
I found a review on Amazon that I think encapsulate my own feeling about the set.
“This set is hands down one of the most lusciously detailed, illustrated, written, translated, and produced works of military history I have had the pleasure of reading in a long, long time. And that is not hyperbole. From the quality of the original research and translations, to the breadth of coverage, to the details of the individual battles and topics, to the huge number of gorgeous maps that accompany almost every article, this set is simply stupendous. Let me mention that last part again. So many works of modern military history neglect the critical aspect of cartography. With a topic as obscure as the Great Northern War maps are critical. Not only are the maps a huge part of this work, they are literally works of art. They are easy to understand, numerous, clear, and beautiful. I can not say enough good things about this fantastic resource. Even if the GNW is not your period of main interest, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in your purchase. I would have bought this set at twice the price, and I mean that nor do I have any connection whatsoever with the publishers.”
From Jason C. Pipes review of the Great Norhtern War Compendium taken from Amazon.com 15/10/17
“So why the excitement”, I hear you thinking, “…we know about your Fraustadt Battle already and the Compendium was released more than a Year ago!”. Ok, sorry, here we go.
I noted recently that there is a book coming, preliminary in May 2018, that sounds really interesting and I pre-ordered a copy. The book is called The Swedish Army of the Great Northern War, 1700-1721 and written by Lars Ericson Wolke. Lars is Professor at the Swedish Military Academy in Stockholm and have written widely on Swedish and international military history and I have read many of his previous books with great pleasure.
Here is the blur about the book (taken from Amazon):
The book describes the development of the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War, 1700-1721, when Sweden fought against a coalition of Russia, Denmark-Norway and Poland-Saxony. For parts of the War also Prussia and Hannover joined the enemy coalition. The book describes how the Army was reorganised in the year before the outbreak of the war, with its unique allotment system of recruitment. The book also includes a list of all Army units during the 21 years of war.
The strategic situation in the Baltic Sea region in the last 1690´s is given, and is then followed up by an analysis of the strategic situation in the early 1720´s.
A description of the Army as it was at the time of the outbreak of the war in 1700, as well as the system of fortresses around the Baltic Sea is provided. The equipment and tactics of the Army are presented, not the least how they developed during the long period of the war.
The development of the 21 years of war are described and discussed to give the reader a good overview of the military (and partly the political) development. The battlefield Performance of the Swedish Army is in depth studied through descriptions and analysis of six battles and one campaign.
The book includes a list of suggestions for further reading, and is supported by a large number of illustrations including specially-commissioned colour uniform plates.
Wow! I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon here. This is part of the same series as the other book (I am wating for!) I discussed in an earlier blog entry about the Russian Army of the period, link here.
In addition, and from the same publisher, there is another Great Northern War book being completed. This one is called “The Battle of Poltava 1709” by Valerii Alekseevich Moltusov. I am happy this work will be available in English, as I suspect this may be a translation of a book he wrote in 2010 about the Battle (but I may be wrong), that was translated into Swedish. The book was brilliant.
And the blur from the publishers page:
Based on Swedish, Russian and Ukrainian source, this book presents a modern look at the pivotal battle of the Great Northern War. The uniqueness of the book is that it reveals the consistency and logic of the Russian army’s actions. The book also provides a detailed historiography of the Battle of Poltava. The author reveals the secrets of military engineering art Russian and Swedish armies. For the first time, new evidence for the location and configuration of the fortification system on the battlefield is given, as well as new information on the actions of Russian artillery in battle is given. In addition, there is much information on the strength and composition of Russian troops аt different stages of the battle, as well as an examination of the participation in the battle of irregular military formations on both sides. The author’s conclusions complement our understanding of the battle. Highly illustrated including specially-commissioned colour artwork and maps, this is a major new account of one of the 18th century’s most important battles.
Here are three other books relevant to the Great Northern War in English for you to check out, all of them are covering a longer period of history. They all give insight into the rise and decline of Sweden as a major power in the region and puts the build up to the war and its aftermath into context. I recommend all of them (the first one is normally available second hand from Amazon at a very low cost).
The Struggle for Supremacy in the Baltic 1600-1725, by Jill Lisk (link here)
A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower, by Henrik O. Lunde (link here)
The Northern Wars 1558-1721, by Robert I. Frost (link here)
In addition Nick (Dorrell) gave me a copy of his Second Scenario Book for the Twilight of the Sun King (TotSK) rules at Joy of Six in July. It took me until recently to have a read through. It is called the Ottoman & Great Northern Wars and contains the following scenarios:
The Wars against the Ottoman Empire (1683 to 1718) – with links to Wikipedia added:
I only went through the Great Northern War scenarios. None of the tables required to play these (with a base width of 60mm, two of these bases makes a normal unit in the rules) are bigger than the normal 6′ by 4′. For each Battle there are options and in some cases what-if proposals, e.g. a field action at Narva where the Russians march out on the fields in front of Narva, instead of staying in their fortified positions, and take on the Swedes. Overall I think the mix of scenarios works well and the only one I felt was missing is the Fraustadt 1706 battle – but then I remembered it is the example battle in the main TotSK rules.
Narva and Holowczyn are attacks by the Swedes on a strong position. Klissow, Gadebush andStorkyro are more traditional battles of the era. Both the Lesnaya and the Crossing of the Düna scenario are interesting in that the objectives, from a Swedish perspective, are not necessary to win the battle outright but to establish and defend a bridgehead in the case of Düna and to limit the destruction of the marching army in the Lesnaya scenario.
We have presented both the Lesnaya and the Gadebusch battle using the rules and the scenarios at Joy of Six in the past. My favourite one is the Crossing of the Düna where a Swedish assault force supported by artillery tries to secure a bridge head whilst a pontoon bridge is being completed at the same time as a full army of Saxons are advancing. I have played versions of this battle using the Polemos as well as Maurice rules in the past and may give it a go with the TotSK rules in a not to distant future. I have promised myself this time to do it with a proper gun boat, artillery float and a pontoon bridge. I find that the additional rules in some of the scenarios for weather effect (snow storm for the Narva scenario) and rolling for enforcements in the Crossing scenario adds a nice uncertainty to the game. The Holowczynwhat-if scenario is very similar to the Horka idea.
More about the rules and the scenario books here. I also wrote a few lines about the rules in a previous blog (see here).
The 10mm Gunboat I bought last week at SELWG (see more here) is slowly going to take the role of a gun sloop at Düna – supporting the Swedish crossing.
I also got a nice surprise in that a friend of mine Michael Leck is doing a Great Northern War battle at Salute this year using the Pikeman’s Lament rules (that he and Dan Mersey wrote and I and the Little One have enjoyed played on many occassions, for example see here and here). You may recall his fantastic Fort Mosquito set-up from Salute last year or known him from some of the other stuff he has done over the years.
Michael Leck is, perhaps, more famous for the fantastic stuff he presents on his Dalauppror blog (here) and his articles in the Wargames, Soldier and Strategy magazine where he has presented snippets from the rich Swedish military history and how to adapt some popular rule set to play in these, more than often, unknown theatres. You may recall that I put up a picture of his fantastic, and award winning, game at Salute in the last blog update (here). Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago.
From some blogs ago
He will be doing the Battle of Stäket which is the last land battle of the Great Northern war. He provided a sneak preview of the table being made recently.
But we baked you some Biscuits!
If you have not yet listened to the “The Lardy Oddcast” that you can find on the Too Fat Lardies webpage then go and do so – it is very interesting! (link here). They have produced some of the exceptionally good and innovative rules over the years (like IABSM, Sharp Practice and Chain of Command to mention a few) this give a nice insight to what is going on the Lard Island as well as in the head of the islanders – well worth a listen!
It is another welcome thing to do whilst painting or whatever else you do with your hands when you listen to a podcast. I am still yet to get going with my Chain of Command 15mm Winter War stuff – but I seem to be running out of excuses. I still have to do some of the terrain but should get cracking with a game at some point (here is were I got up to last year, link here and here). I have done a few games of Chain of Command but would really like to get a few more under my tight belt!
As you are aware, I am a fan of the Wargames Veteran podcast (link to it here) and the latest episode was another good one, especially as Jay had invited Peter Berry along for a chat. Peter, if you were not aware, is the owner of Baccus 6mm (link here) – I may have featured a few of his miniatures on this blog! (also the podcast before this one is a good one with Henry Hyde and his upcoming Campaign book, and the one before that one… and the one before that one,….).
You will find out how Baccus came about, and also why it is not spelt Bacchus, but more importantly Peter and Jay discuss the current trends in the wargames publishing market – mainly focusing on 28mm and skirmish type games. I think it is a fair observation and it is worth listening to what Peter actually is trying to say. This stems from an opinion piece Peter published on the Baccus home page recently. The underlying message is that there is something we hobbyists could do in helping and that is to submit articles to the editors of the magazines, whatever scale or type of wargaming we are into.
Jay, as always managed to nutshell the moment, with the following statement, “If we want this hobby to continue, then we gonna have to be open and willing to share , and willing to help and maybe not be so negative towards the neo-fights!”
And with reference to Neo-fights!, the Brits and Americans are yet again debating the greatness of something without having done a full sample of the market. Everyone knows that the best biscuits are from Gothenburg and are call Ballerina, and you definitely dunk these, in whatever liquid you have at hand. 😉
He also interviewed Howard Whitehouse about Mad Dogs With Guns (link here). This is a new gangster game from Osprey Games that I have made myself a post-it note to check out.
A few other things I took away from the Berry Interview were the word Scanian War range and re-sculpting the Great Northern War range!
Finally the Little One has expressed some interest in some Star Wars miniature gaming – we already have a large collection of the ships from the X-wing game – so this next venture will be into some skirmish gaming. Imperial Assault has been out for some time and soon Star Wars Legions will be out. A majority of the Fab Four at the Meeples and Miniatures podcast discusses Imperial Assault in their latest show and I am very tempted to give it a go, but resisting as I do not have time for another diversion at this moment – like the Dreadball one, having painted 6 teams over a very short period of time. Legion or Assault?- it is still open for us and not an immediate issue to resolve. Listen to the Meeples podcast here. I am a long time sufferer of the show and can proudly call myself a Meep, check it out and become one you too.
/ Have a good week-end I am certainly on a high this week, that was a long rant! But at least an early posting for a change.
Russian Army List
Here is that Russian army list, I promised earlier.
Unit – Name of the Regiment/unit
Type – Infantry or Cavalry
Ref – Reference
Polemos Bases – 60 by 30mm base with 9 riders or 24 foot – 2 of these are a normal unit in Twilight of the Sun King rules. 1 is a small unit and 3 a large unit. The X indicate how many are needed.
Class – RD – Russian Dragoon, RI – Russian Infantry with Pike.
In the previous blog entry (see here) I set out the forces and the miniatures I intended to use for this project. I have just completed these units this week and hope to get a game with the Little One in the near future. Same approach as always in trying to achieve reasonable results not individual master pieces. The units I planned to do were as follows, based on some possible small encounters during the Pruth Campaign 1711.
I am very happy with the result and I am tempted to make a small Swedish “force” from the same era (with some pikes).
Perhaps something like this.
GNS01 (Tricorne) or GNS02 (Karpus)
GNS03 (Tricorne) or GNS04 (Karpus)
Aggressive Elite Gallopers
GNS05 or GNS06
Sorry trying to avoid drifting, back to the Pruth stuff.
For the Russians I decided to go for units with red as a common denominator and painted them as based on units that took part in the campaign (based on a list from the draft of Nick Dorrell’s upcoming book – discussed in the previous blog, here). All these are from the “new” Baccus WSS range – I had not yet painted these but I must say that they are a joy to paint. I have so far used the old WSS range for my GNW stuff as I have a fair few of the ones lying around from previous purchases with hybric flavours.
On the subject of the Russians of this era I did notice a book currently on pre-order due out in November this year. The book is titled The Russian Army in the Great Northern War 1700-21 with the subtitle Uniforms, Organization, Materiel, Training and Combat Experience. I hope this will have some more information on uniform colours than what is currently available. Although I have to admit that I pre-ordered it based on the title, what is really interesting is the background of the author. I let you read it yourself.
Boris Megorsky was born in Leningrad, USSR in 1978. He lives in St Petersburg, Russia with his beloved wife Olga and three-year-old son Vadim. He did his PhD in Political Science and works in Human Resources, but his true passion has always been military history. As a scholar, he specializes in the everyday life of the Russian Army, its uniforms and siege warfare of the Great Northern War period; he has written dozens of articles and theses on these subjects. His book about the siege of Narva in 1704 was published in Russia in 2016 and, as a re-enactor, he is a member and sergeant of the Preobrazhensky Life Guard Regiment, 1709 ( Russia’s leading re-enactment society of the early 1700s). His passion for miniatures makes him pay great attention to details both in research and in reconstructions, be it re-enactors’ kit or graphical illustration consultations. He has consulted on a number of films, museum and publishing projects, and has worked with miniature manufacturers and artists. – From the Amazon Webpage
Here is a link to it at Amazon (but there are probably other places where you can buy it too, like the book depository). Worth having on your radar, but a long way from being out. Would of course be useful for the Pruth campaign too. Back to the key thread again.
Permski Dragoon Regiment (Dragoons)
The Permski dragoon regiment were present in the 1711 campaign so I decided to make my dragoon units represent a detachment from this regiment. They had white coats with red cuffs. I have already painted some of these for the Lesnaya Battle but they are based on 60 by 30mm bases. As these represents the Dragoon in the traditional role of being more mounted infantry than cavalry they have been based with unmounted figures but with a horse present on each base. I have used the 1-2-3 system (shown in the Pikeman’s Lament rulebook), modified to fit the 6mm scale, and as discussed in this blog entry if you do not have the book at hand.
4 units of 6 dragoons, based with the 1-2-3 method (15mm, 20mm and 25mm bases)
Repnin’s Grenadiers (Forlorn Hope)
I painted these to represent Repnin’s Grenadiers that had red coats with (speculative?) blue cuffs. Named after the Russian General, and eventually Field Marshal, Prince Anikita Ivanovich Repnin who commanded one of the Russian centre commands at Poltava in 1709 (you can read more about him here). These were also based with the 1-2-3 system.
3 units of 6 Forlorn Hope, based with the 1-2-3 method (12mm, 15mm and 20mm bases).
General Sheremetev’s Dragoon Squadron (Raw Trotters)
For these I wanted them to represent General Sheremetev’s Squadron, I painted them with red coats and white cuffs. Potentially these could be classified as non-raw (or even Veteran) assuming that the General’s squadron may be more potent than the standard dragoon unit. Boris Sheremetev commanded the overall centre at Poltava in 1709 and led the main army in the Pruth Campaign (more about him here).
4 units of 6 trotters, based with the 1-2-3 method (15mm, 20mm and 25mm bases).
I do not have a lot of information of who wore what for these units – so I did a quick decision to paint them based on a basic livery green (green ink on the clothing and then picking out some detail with Livery Green). Finally got to use this fine Colour!
I would be very keen to get some comprehensive information on detailed organization and uniform guides from this conflict – but until then artistic freedom will do. I you have any views or suggestions please do let me know through the contact option on the blog of find us on facebook and ask away.
Janissaries (Veteran Shot)
I painted these in a green coat with the traditional white headgear with some simple pink detail/ There is a little story about how models were developed by Master 6mm painter Dr. Mike also known as Cranium (here). He is the man who runs the SMS (Small Model Soldier) painting clinics at various shows, teaching people how to paint “something so small”. I developed most of the techniques I am using in painting 6mm from reading his entries on the old Baccus forum (I do not find these anymore) – my favourite is the use of Windsor & Newton Ink (Nut Brown) after the painting is done – the army painter quick shade equivalent for smaller scales (kind of!) . It really makes the models “look better than they are”, in my opinion. Try it for yourself – go nuts!
5 units of 12 Veteran Shot, based with the 1-2-3 method (12mm, 15mm and 20mm bases).
Again a green colour scheme with bronzed helmet. I painted the flags green with three crescents as I had seen this for an Ottoman unit many years ago at a wargames show and liked it. Having done some research I am not 100% sure it is a valid flag for the Ottomans – but I like it so it stays until I have better alternative. The bronze helmets also looks good and, like the pink and white on the Janissaries, show that these uniforms where not designed to blend into the countryside but to look stunning!
4 units of 6 trotters, based with the 1-2-3 method (15mm, 20mm and 25mm bases)
Hope that was of some interest, another read of the rules and we have to hit the table with these. Not the same splendor as individual 28mm bases for skirmish, but it works for me. The fact that I have produced two opposing forces of almost twice the recommended starting size in a week of hobby-time is perhaps the biggest advantage.
I did a similar project for the Men Who Would be Kings rules that you can find information about (here, here and here).
Next week I will be showing some progress on the main project (a proper large battle). As the package with models came through from Marching in Colour last week (see here) and I have started slowly getting my act together again this week (afterthought – as if it ever was there!).
I have decided to give the Mutant 1984 project a break over the Summer – I did paint the two little structures/buildings I did a few weeks back (here) and showed them on the Facebook page. For completeness I include them here as well. I think we are getting closer to having the terrain we need for a proper game with these rules. I am excited to start a campaign with some Pyri Commonwealth Soldiers – The recollections of rifleman Crocodylus. However there is something rather therapeutic in doing some terrain so perhaps there will be some pieces done in the background of everything else.
The picture below shows the good Rifleman Crocodylus himself next to to one of the 6mm Dragoon bases above and a BIC pen for size comparison, as I occasionally get questions about this through the site. The Rifleman is a converted Warlord 95th rifle model (28mm scale) with a head from a crooked dice model.