The last blog post was 28 days ago, that is the longest gap I have had since I started this blog in 2016 – my objective was to do a blog post every week or so. I am slowly working away on a few hobby things but work and some personal issues has lead to some difficulties to find some time to write stuff down – I still do some Twitter binges as I find it a fantastic forum for miniatures and wargaming – it is friendly and inspirational.
However here is a condensed catch-up blog of what hobby related activities I undertook during February 2019 – I hope it will suffice!
Roll a One blog 10th February – Star Wars Legion, first two Games
We Spent this week preparing and playing Star Wars what a Legion it was fantastic fun. We had a go at the learning scenario and then we did a more involved scenario with some objective in a little desert village. I lost both of the battles… here are some pictures.
The Little One gave me a new nick name – Roll a Blank! However overall we had a blast and have played a few more time since. Fun game and thumbs up from the Little One.
Roll a One blog 17th February – Some more Legion Building
A relatively calm week, we got a MDF piece for the Legion Desert terrain. Following some preparation we think it blends in nicely with the other terrain although it is made from MDF.
Good value at about a tenner, and gives some options for fighting on the roof.
Roll a One blog 25th February – Mapping it all Up, Bad Elephant Joke, Painting the Monastery/Cloister
I pulled the famous finger out of that infamous place and have now started with this years Joy of Six project for real – Poltava 1709. The Battlefield will be 16 by 5 feet and I did a rough map on how it will look in the end and have started planning the various key terrain elements (All miniature 6mm Baccus).
Some of the key features on the left hand side are seen below, the Swedish Camp, Poltava with Siege lines, although I think they actually were on the left of Poltava in this picture. We can also see the Monastery, the Swedish Camp and some of the Russian Redoubts.
Here is the Monastery made from models from Total Battle Miniatures. I think it will do the trick it will be place on a hill with trees.
I have also got myself a whole camping worth of tents to do the Swedish Camp with a design based on how a battalion camped during the era (with the latrines to the left).
I even found a guy in the Baccus camp pack who looked just perfect to convert to a man having a dump in the latrine area – he looks very peaceful and reflective, perhaps he was unwell on the day and could not be with the army (lucky guy!).
Roll a One blog 3rd March – Russian Redoubts
The Russian redoubts are another of the key components of the Poltava Battlefield, here are my take on them (note due to ground scale vs figure scale these had to be relatively small). I have just got the miniatures so only did a few for test purposes.
I first made some using clay but whilst in a Wickes (UK DIY shop) on another mission I noticed that the were selling Pine Glass Bead Moulding (basically strips of wood) that had a very interesting profile (see below, they are product code 121231 at Wickes and comes in lengths of 2.4 meters – plenty for my current needs).
That was all, I think I am all up to date now, until next roll Ones!
In summary, not done too much in the last three weeks, some “diversionary-but-I-hope-of-some-interest-blur” to fill out the blog and then some pictures of new stuff at the end.
This is my 8th consecutive year of putting on a table at Joy of Six. With the exception of 2016 when Neil Shuck and I ran Saga in 6mm, Nick Dorrell and I have staged a range of Battles from the Great Northern War (GNW), including Fraustadt 1706, Klissow 1702, Kalisz 1706, Gadebusch 1712, Lesnaya 1708 and Horka 1708. I think it has been an fair run and I am currently debating with myself whether the table this year, Poltava 1709, will be the last GNW table I do. I feel like it has been a good run and looking at all these tables in the pictures below I enjoyed all the effort I put in and when we presented them, I have been told, others enjoyed them too.
There are a few more battles of the war that I think would be interesting to put on the table, including:
Narva 1700. Swedish attack on fortified Russians with a snow blizzard during the battle. A few Swedes against many, many Russians.
The Duna Crossing 1701. Swedish river assault supported by floating Gun Platforms, etc. Against the Saxons.
Battle of Helsingborg 1710. Fighting on Swedish soil with the Danes last attempt at getting the Scanian lands.
Actually there are many more and if you go to the eminent webpage Tacitus.nu there is a nice table showing all the bigger engagements of the War, when they occurred, who the Swedes fought and who was the main Swedish Commander (link here, and while you are there you will find detailed uniform information for some of the largest battles, based on some of the best resources available).
It is strange, having read so many GNW books and painted so many 6mm miniatures from the Baccus GNW range, that I still have this fascination for the period. I still remember my Father’s retelling of the bravery of the soldiers in the Dal Regiment, when its Battalions breached the defences at the Battle of Narva in 1700 under the leadership of Magnus Stenbock, then a Colonel, who later (I suppose subject to some argument) became one of the Greatest Generals of the era. Another story was the one about the Duna crossing and I remember I closed my eyes and felt the splashes of water from the cannon balls landing next to the rowing boats as the Swedish advance force pressed on toward the river bank on the other side. There is no historical era that is even close with regards to the level of satisfaction and sense of adventure in my opinion – but then I am unashamedly biased. All the other stuff I do are also very interesting but are truly just diversions, I suppose the Great Northern War is what they call “a first love”.
I seem to have convinced myself to keep on going but we will see how this year goes. There is a small benefit in that apart from making the mat/terrain there is limited work in setting up most of the tables after I have finished the Poltava Battle this year, as any painting required will be limited (I have extensive Saxon, Swedish, Russian and Danish armies, so I am reasonably well covered. Some of them I have based for Summer and Winter).
So.., how is Poltava going?
In an earlier posting about a year ago, I was stressing about Poltava (that Posting was actually reasonably interesting, with a link here). I want “my” Poltava to tell the story about the battle not just as a line of Soldiers facing each other at the final attack of the decimated Swedish force against the overwhelming Russian packed lines.
Given this, the following needs to be done (with level of completeness given as a percentage, where 0% means done shit all and 100% all done and dusted):
Finish all the Swedish and Russian miniatures (for the main action, but also for detachment around the battlefield) – 95%
Swedish Camp – 50% (have a lot of Swedish supply wagons, just need to do some camp bases)
Swedish Siege Lines around Poltava – 0%
The Poltava Fortress and Town – 25% (have some houses I can reuse, but will need to do the wooden walls and towers)
Russian Redoubts – 0%
Cossacks / Kalmyck irregular cavalry – 100%
Monastery on the Hill – 0% (but have bought the models)
Surrounding Villages – 50% (I will use some existing ones but need to buy some more)
Russian Camp – 0%
The Battle Mat – 0% (I think a 12 by 4 sheet will do).
The fact that almost all the miniatures are painted is a very good place to be, but I learned not to underestimate the time it will take to do the other stuff – especially the battle mat. The above is the tracker I am using for the Project.
Just before Christmas I did some bases of town folks I will use as Poltava Militia – now do they really look like we would imagine a militia unit of the region? Maybe not but I felt that the Streltzy code would make them look too uniformed, too organised – so I did them like this. The idea was that each miniatures was painted differently, I think I achieved the look I wanted. Note that I have not yet based them as I want to do this when I know how I make the Poltava town/fortress section of the battlefield – so the bases can blend in nicely.
This week I also did some more Dragoons, it seems like there is always more Russian Dragoons to be made – I think that may be it for this time. However, I will do another review just to make sure. I have run out 60 by 30mm bases at this time, so I will have to base them later.
/ Hope that was of some interest, all the best to you.
I had a lot of fun with the hobby in 2018 and this is my year end account of a lot of the things that has been and some things to come. I really hope that your 2019 will be great and I am really grateful for all of you who visit this blog on a regular or occasional basis. One of the best things, this year, is that the Little One is getting more interested and involved in the hobby – thanks Mate!
Also a big thank you to Nick Dorrell, who I did the Horka Battle with at Joy of Six in the Summer, also all the Twitter people (it is a very nice place to be, I call myself Per at Roll a One there), and all the fantastic hobby related podcasts I listen to in between the audible books whilst I try to put paint in the right places. These include, the Too Fat Lardies Oddcast, the Veteran Wargames, the Grognard’s Files, the WSS Podcast, Henry Hyde’s Battlegames (not strictly a podcast but he has done a lot of great ones this year), Wargames Recon, and Trouble at T’Mill.
I also regularly listen to the Meeples and Miniatures podcast and inspired by them the Little One and I thought we would do our own top 5 games we played this year, in no particular order.
What a Tanker – this is so much fun and it inspired me to do a lot of Russian and Finnish tanks during the Sovietic Summer Offensive 1944. I also did a List for the Finnish Tanker (see more below). A brilliantly simple, but not simplistic game, that I really recommend anyone to try (link to the rules here).
Bag the Hun – Provoked by some of the Twitter chums, you know who you are, but again got me a reason to explore some of the Finnish connection. The Finns basically flew the shit of the machines they had and painting those tumbling dice plane has been great fun (see more below). We only did a few games to learn the rules – we will definitely fly more next year (link to the rules here).
Maurice – we just pulled this out for our Christmas game but ended up playing another two games in the last few days. I had forgotten how good of a game this is, it really gives a very nice feeling of the larger battle with the cards adding that narrative feel and grand excitement to the outcome of the battle. I wrote about this battle in the last blog post (see here) and a link to the rules here.
Saga – we have had fun this year using the Second edition of the rules (see more below) and we recently got the book of battles that is a fantastic product – that could be used for other games than Saga (link to the rules here).
Mutants and Death Ray Guns – In the quest for rule sets for my Mutant 1984 project (see more below) we have had some fun games using these rules. Perfect for smallish skirmish (link to the rules here).
Next year we are looking forward to playing all of the above, but also a few other games:
Star Wars Legion – the Little One got a fair amount for this game over Christmas. Looking forward to see if the force is with us or not. I am not a great fan in doing 28mm painting because it takes too long and I am crap at it – so I think we have more than our hand full with this project.
Chain of Command – I want to finish the Swedish platoon write-up and do a few Scenarios based on the 1943 Swedish invasion plan made by Adolf Schell. Part of this plan had some of the lines of advance going through Dalarna (the county where I was born) in Sweden and it would be interesting to place some of the action here. I also would like to do some scenarios based on some of the fighting in the ‘Unknown Soldier’ book/movie during the Finnish Continuation war (I made some assault boats I really would like to put in a scenario). I also need to finish the Germans for the 29th Lets Go Pint sized campaign.
Other stuff – I am excited about the Rebels and Patriot Rules, as we have enjoyed playing Pikeman’s Lament and the Rampant rules. I also think the Little One is getting ready for a few more involved rulesets, like Twilight of the Sun King and some higher level WW2 rules. In addition I will do the final battle of the Towards Moscow Trilogy, Poltava 1709, at Joy of Six, but plenty more of that next year.
Here are a summary of the projects I have been working on this year….
Kirbekan 1885 – 6mm Sudan/Egypt Colonial Project
This project was started this year to try out Peter Rileys draft “A Steady and Deliberate Fire” rules. It has been fun to paint the Baccus colonial range. I will need to get some terrain together so I can have a go with the rules next year. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
Rapier Miniatures are doing some fantastic Glorantha stuff in 6mm and 28mm, I could not resist to get a few of their Bison riders. They painted up really well. Here are few pictures and a link to the relevant blog posting below.
WW2 Platoons, 15mm for Chain of Command (or any other platoon based game)
I painted a fair few Platoons with supports this year, including a Swedish what-if platoon (with some initial notes on the composition to do a list for Chain of Command). Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
I also did a full set of markers etc, to use for winter war gaming of Chain of Command. I especially enjoyed doing the patrol markers and the tall pine trees. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below. We have played a lot of games with these rules and made a list for the Finnish Tanker so we could play Continuation War scenarios. Here are few pictures and links to relevant blog postings below.
To Katie, Henry, Mike and Neil (I will explain later),
I have a twitter account Per at RollaOne (@roll_a_one) were I ran a vote on whether to do a Christmas game with Swedes fighting Danes or Saxons. Here are the results. Being Swedish I did not want to us to do a game without the Swedes on the table. It would have been a strange Great Northern War battle without them anyway.
So here a presentation of the forces and a short AAR with some picture of the Battle…
The Rules, Opposing Commanders and their Forces
We decided to use the Maurice Rules for the game and made two 100-pointish armies each. 1 unit is represented by 2 No. 60 by 30mm bases (a battery by 1 No. smaller base) – normally you use 4 square bases for a unit – this is 2 bases – the only issue is that the column formation looks funny – I can live with that.
Maurice is an excellent game by Sam Mustafa and you can download some information on his webpage, including a lite version that you can play with (link here). The rules works well for us and suits the way we play.
We have not done a what-if, instead it is a just a battalion level clash with familiar names of regiments for both sides, but with two totally fictitious Generals (quickly sketched up by yours truly).
I am using Maurice because I would like to do a little campaign, at some point, of the Swedish lacklustre efforts against the Prussians during the Seven Years War. This is a chance to dust off these rules that I think gives a fun flair and works for the Period. It is a card driven system, cards are used for activation and in additon can give bonus to firing (called Volley in the game), actions (charge, march, bombard, rally) or events can be played. You can also buy national advantages that gives your army bonuses. There is also a good campaign system, heroes (notables that work as supporting Commanders) and other stuff not covered here.
I made some notes on Maurice earlier with regards to the Great Northern War era (link to that blog post here). In addition we are using the special rules for stationary artillery and pikes (for the Swedes).
This is not a review of the rules and I will just discuss the set-up and the result of the Battle briefly, there are a lot of reviews and playthroughs on the net, as the game has been around for some time, that you may want to check out. I really like the concept and the card system. As you will see in the actual game we played it creates a narrative.
The Danish Side
The Danish Major General Schmeicel is a tired and laconic individual, but can cause some occasional spark on the battlefield. He is mainly an infantry specialist and have fought many campaigns in central Europe and his men are well drilled in firing – in accordance with the Dutch School. This places less emphasis on the bayonet and is highly dependent on platoon firing with a rippling of fire down the whole length of the battalion. His strength lies in a prolonged firefight again the inferior firing Swedish units but will find it difficult once caught in the melee. The conscript horse units are represented by Dragoons.
For the Danish side we went for the following:
National Advantage: Lethal Volleys – 12 AP (this to represent better fire drill than the charge oriented Swedes)
8 No. Regular Infantry (Trained) Units – 48 AP
2 No. Regular Cavalry (Trained) – 12 AP
3 No. Regular Cavalry (Conscript) – 12 AP
4 No. Artillery units – 10 AP
Improve two units to Elite – 5 AP (1 No. Cavalry and 1 No. Infantry)
A total of 99 AP, 16 infantry bases, 10 cavalry bases and 4 Artillery bases.
We are also assuming Stationary batteries for the Artillery (See Chapter 10 – advanced rules). In this era
Resulting in the following force:
Foot Guard/Queens Req, Regular Infantry, Elite
Grenadiers, Regular Infantry, Trained
Marine Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Frijs Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Arnoldts, Regular Infantry, Trained
Zepelin Regiment, Regular Infantry, Trained
Staffels/Kragh, Regular Infantry, Trained
Viborg/Aarhus National, Regular Infantry, Trained
Horse Guard, Regular Cavalry, Elite
2nd Fynske, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Life Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Conscript
Bulow Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Conscript
Jyske Land Dragoon, Regular Cavalray, Conscript
1 to 4 Artillery Units
The Swedish Side
The Swedish Major General Stryptagh has risen quickly through the ranks and is one of the Kings youngest Generals. Keen to impress, he is rash and a fully aligned with the Swedish offensive tactical doctrine (Gå-På). He needs to get into contact as quickly as possible to win the day with superior shock cavalry as well as pike armed infantry units, hitting hard. The religious doctrine is represented in the use of clerics which is more to give an edge than clerics running around throwing incence. The cleric will be marked using individually bases figures. There is no difference between Cavalry and Dragoons in the Swedish army in this game, or in reality, the are all count as galloping shock attacking cavalry.
As elegantly described in the book “Vägen till Poltava” (‘The Road to Poltava’, by Konovaltjuk and Lyth) the Swedish doctrine of marching slowly and steadily, towards the enemy in silence, then fire a Salvo at 70 steps and then at 30 steps from the enemy, with no reloading, before charging in, was based on simple mathematics.
Here is a rough translation of the relevant passage.
“The Swedish method of infantry attack was based on the limited accuracy (spread) of musket fire and the time to reload for a new salvo. The spread meant that units preferred to shoot at the same time with many weapons – salvo fire – and hoped this would create gaps in the human wall in front of them, even though many shots failed to ignite or missed their targets. A salvo had a limited impact on distances above 70 steps (50 meters) – except against cavalry that had a bigger target area and were the horses reaction was more important than the riders. In shooting repeated salvos, whether they were fired by rank, platoon or by all, you had to wait for all to reload. The time for unified reloading has been discussed a lot and sometimes assessed to be at least one minute and up to two minutes. In a minute the enemy had time to march one hundred steps (75-80 meters) and run 150 steps. If the effective range for a salvo was 70 steps the unit that opened fire at a longer distance became a defenceless target for the opponent that calmly and steadily advanced and fired its salvo at a shorter distance and therefore with a bigger impact. The Gå-På method was based on this simple calculation.”
In reality it seems that the first and second salvos were fired even closer as the war progressed. It was very effective and very often led to a routing enemy at or before contact with no protracted melee. The horse charged in with a wedge shaped formation as was equally offensive and did normally not fire any weapons at all.
For the Swedish side we went for the following:
Major General Stryptagh
National Advantage: Cavaliers – 9 AP (Shock Cavalry), Clerics – 9 AP (to illustrate Swedish Determination) and A la Baïonnette! – 9 AP (shock infantry)
5 No. Regular Cavalry (Trained) – 30 AP
5 No. Regular Infantry (Trained) Units – 30 AP
Improve four units to Elite – 14 AP (1 No. Cavalry and 3 No. Infantry)
Also Swedish infantry are armed with pike and we are using the advance rules for Pikes (See Chapter 10 – Advanced Rules). Typically a third of the Soldier had pikes in the early Stages of the War.
A total of 101 AP. 10 No. Cavalry Bases and 10 No. Infantry Bases.
Resulting in the following force:
Närke-Varmland, Regular Infantry, Elite
Västerbotten, Regular Infantry, Elite
Västermanland, Regular Infantry, Elite
Kronobergs, Regular Infantry, Trained
Södermanland, Regular Infantry, Trained
Queen Dowagers Horse, Regular Cavalry, Elite
Bremiska Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Bassewitz Dragoon, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Norra Skanska Cavalry, Regular Cavalry, Trained
Nylands Cavalry, Regular Cavalry, Trained
We then made our selection from the Winter based stuff, we used about 25% of it.
We fought the battle on the dining table, using a 3 by 4.5 feet snow mat I have had for some time. With the relative small forces at hand (and a base width at 30mm) this should work fine.
We drew the following battle field card.
Going through the motions of the card we find that we can place a maximum of 1 hill, 2 marshes, 1 rocky ground, 2 towns/village, and 6 wood terrain features (the red around marking around the forest number indicates that it is mandatory to choose some forest features (makes sense since the battles is in a woodland area).
Next was scouting and this is done by rolling a die each. The Little One rolled 6 and I rolled, yes you got it, One!. There are modifiers based on the number of units you have of the type on the card (regular cavalry and irregular infantry in this case) but there was no point checking this, the Little One won. He wanted to be the attacker! – it was what the Swedes did in this era.
We ended up choosing two town/village and a few forest terrain areas. The table was set up as follows.
In addition being the attacker the Little One was allowed an additional ‘mercenary’ units – we just added another Swedish infantry unit.
We then recorded our Army Morale values which were 17 for the Danes and 11 for the Swedes, this is based on number regular of units!
A little bit of shuffling and card allocation later we could start the Battle.
The Jingle Bells rang and we were ready to get going….
The Game got a thumbs up from the Little One. I have to agree, although the write-up perhaps gives the impression of Swedish onslaught it hang somewhat in the balance. The cards are interesting and the national characteristics gives the right Great Northern War feel we get from the traditional history books.
We had blast, but then we always do. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a really good Christmas if that is your thing, if not have a blast anyway. I will be back with some reflective stuff before the end of the year. That will be the normal review of the Year, from this/my blogs perspective (and there is a wide variety of stuff to cover), and some Crystal ball gazing for next year. Hope you will be back for that! The next big project is Poltava, with some 350 bases on the table (the battle we just presented above had 50 bases) at Joy of Six in July – it will be a spectacle. Here is a “nice” video about the battle from YouTube.
A sad but also, I hope, inspiring end to this post…
Being somewhat detached from worldly events at times, I totally missed that my favourite Danish Artist Kim Larsen died earlier this year, on the 30th September 2018. This was after a long battle with prostate cancer.
I remember many drunken occasions in my youth listening to his band Gasolin and have been listening to him since. I have included my favourite song below – “Det bedste til mig og mine venner” (“The best to me and my friends”).
This year I have also sadly been reminded of the issues of mental health within my family, friends and in the work place. I am happy that the awareness and understanding is increasing in our society but I think there is a lot more to do. In the wargaming community I especially applaud efforts from Katie Aidley, Henry Hyde and the Meeples and Miniatures crew (of course there are others too). They have all in their own way inspired me to reflect, consider and learn new things about these issues. This blog post is truly dedicated to them.
I let you explore the fantastic creative work of these fantastic people on your own, but here is a little bit of help for you to get started.
I had a Christmas Greeting from an ex-colleague who retired a few years ago, he said some nice things, and one part really made me happy “…working with you was a pleasure. And I noted you covered by back quite a lot”. He actually covered mine and many others backs all the time. It is what builds strong teams, friendships and people! Look out for each other!, … and yourself!.
Yesterday, the Wyre Foresters and I had the pleasure of presenting Horka 1708 at the Joy of Six. We have discussed the background to the battle before and I have attached a handout that contains some background on the idea of the battle, the rules we used (Twilight of the Sun King) as well as an list of the forces used on the day:
It could be useful to read this one before pushing on.
Following a nice family Saturday in the Derbyshire Dales, visiting the impressive Crich Memorial for the Sherwood Foresters Regiment and the nearby Tramway village, we went to Sheffield and attended the famous BBKBCE – Baccus Balti King Beer and Curry Evening. This is a chance to meet some old a new friends on the eve of the many battles being fought at the Joy of Six.
The Doors at the Joy of Six opened at 10am, but by this time I had been trying to set up the table since 8.30am. It took me a few minutes more – I always mess up some of the regiments in terms of placement and being pedantic with regards to these things knock-on effects on the schedule are inevitable. The mat worked reasonably well, but I had some issues with the sides and I may want to use some duct tape when I roll it out again. I am still in two minds on how I will do the Poltava battlefield next year as it has some interesting elevation – perhaps reverting back to boards or a mix of elevation pieces and a mat – I have a few more months to worry about that.
Having put it all on and taking a step back I have to admit that I said a little “wow”, and reflected on the fact that this is why I do this. Not to stare at an individual miniature being nicely painted (because that is not really my forte, but I do like nicely painted larger scale stuff), but to stare at something that resembles a battle when you take a step back – a battle from one of those many pictures the old man used to show me when I was a little boy and an aspiring General.
Admittedly not your average evening game weighing in at 12 by 5 feet, more than 3,700 miniatures on more than 270 bases – but at Joy of Six – why not! Here is Horka 1708. I dedicate this game to my Dad, who I hope is feasting in Valhalla!
The squares (65mm) are “Command Cards” – 5 for the Swedes and 10 for the Russians. I printed these on sticky labels and put them on MDF bases. It adds a little bit of flair to the game – I think – and also indicates the rating of the Commander. From Poor (+0) to Exceptional (+3).
The actual battle worked out great for the Swedes. The Russian left cavalry flank collapsed under the pressure of Major-General Creutz relentless cavalry attack on the other side of the river, combined with the strong push of the centre. The Tsar himself died heroically in the Battle. Surprising Field Marshall Rehnskiöld with the finest of the cavalry regiments was struggling on the Russian right. It was a decisive Swedish victory. In a re-fight setting we would probably consider making the Russian position stronger with defences and perhaps treat the waterway as more treacherous. So the next refight may be more desperate for the Swedes than this first go indicated.
However, for now, the Swedes won at Horka in 1708.
I will do a general update about the show itself later this week – but I actually did not have time to do very much. It is how it works out when you have table to attend to. There are however some things I need to mention, a few shout outs to people, the seminar I attended and a few of the tables that caught my eye (and I actually took some photos but only a few) but that is for another time.
/ Hope that was of some interest, a few more pictures of the battle.
Many thanks for passing-by, next year we are doing Poltava 1709 (I think that if you look at my flowery shirt long enough and then stare on a white sheet of paper you will see something very special!).
Getting some questions on what we are doing etc so here is write-up for the handout we will be giving out on the day (some of it has been used in previous blog updates), it is to give the passer-by some information on what they are looking at.
The Battle of Horka 1708 – a what-if battle
POSTSCRIPT – I have provided an updated version of this in a later blogpost (see linkhere) – there is a downloadable word and pdf document that covers this and also show the forces and the commands we used on the day – I suggest you go to the other blog post and stop reading this).
The Great Northern War started in 1700 when a coalition formed by Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmak-Norway and Augustus II the Strong of Saxony-Poland attacked Sweden. The coalition were formed following the death of the Swedish King Charles XI and based on the belief that the new and very young King would not be able to put up an organised fight. Following Swedish successful expansion during the 17th century a lot of these neighbours wanted lost territories back, limit Swedish economic dominance and gain access to the Baltic Sea.
However the King turned out to be a skilled warrior and leader of men and the preparedness, quality and efficiency of battle methods of the Swedish army built up by his father was second to none during this era. The King quickly pacified Denmark and a Peace Treaty was signed in 1700 at Travendal. The Russians were defeated at the Battle of Narva in 1700 but then the King turned his attention to Saxony-Poland and Augustus. However due to a number of factors it took the King another 6 years to defeat the Saxon-Polish and force the abdication of Augustus the Strong from the Polish crown (1706 Treaty of Altranstädt).
But the King still had unfinished business with the Russians and the time had come to march towards Moscow ….
In the beginning of July 1708, shortly after his victory against the Russians Holowczyn, the King had reached the Dnieper river with the Crown Army at Mogilev (in todays eastern Belarus). It was, he believed, the last major physical obstacle on the road towards Moscow. The Russians had not made the advance easy as they had applied an scorched earth policy (the same policy that both Napoleon and Hitler would come to know later in history) destroying or removing supplies, burning bridges, withdrawing from villages, harassment of the moving army by irregular Cossack and Kalmuck light horse and dragoons, in combination with the constant rain (it had rained for about 4 weeks almost every day) that destroyed the crops and the hay and also affected the roads that further slowed down the March. The Russians would not give the King the decisive battle he needed. An army does indeed not only march on roads in knee deep mud but also on its stomach and there were still another 300 miles to Moscow – but as we know hope was on the way in the form of the column of supply and soldiers being brought by General Lewenhaupt.
“So once the Swedes had secured the area around Mogilev they stopped to wait for Lewenhaupt and his vital supplies to arrive. … Meanwhile the Russian army had also halted and encamped, as the next obvious destination of the Swedes was the city of Smolensk, the Russians occupied a strong position on the road from Mogilev to this city. The camp was at Horka, sometime called Gorki, a short distance east along the road to Smolensk. … The Swedes considered attacking the position but in the end did not. Had they done so it seem likely that the Russians would have stood and fought.”
from The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell
We know the King would have liked to get on with it.
“Charles XII wanted to march on and put further pressure on the Russians after their disappointing defeat at Holowczyn – the sooner the better – before they had a chance to recover.”
Translated from Katastrofen vid Poltava (The Catastrophe at Poltava) by Peter From
So in our scenario the King gave the order to break up the camp and “Gå-På” towards the Russian position at Horka and the Russians did not slip away. It is large battle for the period and roughly represent a force of 32,000 Swedes vs. 55,000 Russians.
The battle is fought on a 12′ by 5′ table using Baccus Miniatures from the Great Northern War and the Spanish Succession Range.
The Russian Army consist of 787 cavalry miniatures and 1536 No. infantry figures (excluding artillery and command bases) on 155 bases.
The Swedish Army is about two thirds of the size of the Russian Army and consist of 636 cavalry and 672 infantry.
Typically a base on infantry represent a battalion of about 400 to 600 men armed with musket and pike, typically represented by 24 miniatures. They are grouped in either normal units of 2 bases or large units of 3 bases. A base of cavalry represents two or three squadrons of about 200 to 300 men, as for the cavalry they can be organised as normal or large units. There are normally between 7 and 9 cavalry models on each base with.
We are using the Twilight of the Sun King Rules to run the game, The rules are, to quote the Design Philosophy notes, “…radical, some would say reductionist, in their conception. It is based on the premise that during this time period, morale rather than numbers of casualties was the key to deciding combat and even the outcome of battles. Many wargames rules pay lip-service to this; however, these rules take the radical step of collapsing shooting and close combat into morale. This dramatically simplifies game play but does so, in the designers’ opinion, without significant loss of historical accuracy.”
We are the Wyre Foresters and the Game is Umpired by Nick Dorrell who has edited the latest version of the Twilight of the Sun King Rules and Per Brodén who has painted the miniatures and made the terrain.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AND/OR WANT TO ROLL SOME DICE PLEASE APPROACH US – THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE AT THE SHOW.
We will be back next year putting on the Battle of Poltava 1709.
For further information:
Wyre Forest Wargames club: wfgamers.org.uk
Per Brodén’s Wargaming blog: Rollaone.com or twitter @roll_a_one
Following on from some discussions I have followed on twitter recently (@Roll_a_One) I wanted to write a short note about two things about wargame shows that triggered a little bit of deeper thought than I normally allow myself. Also helped by the fact that I have spent more time than I ever wanted on delayed trains this week and have had no chance to do anything practical hobby wise, here we go.
1. The Show walkthrough
2. Demo vs. Participation Games
The Show Walkthrough
I had the following amusing situation (well at least in my view) at Salute a few years back (it was when Nick Dorrell and I demonstrated the Fraustadt 1706 game):
“Do you mind if I take a picture of the table?”, a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera asks politely.
“Not at all!, are you familiar with the Battle of Fraustadt or the Great Northern War?”, me leaning in and hoping for some kind of interaction.
“Not at all!”, the man says taking a few shots form above and then moving away from me trying to zoom in on one of the Saxon infantry bases and his camera takes some time to autofocus (the lighting being unforgivable in the Salute hall).
“The models are from Baccus and they are mostly from their Great Northern War range, they are 6mm. Those Saxons are from their War of Spanish Succession range as the Saxons wore similar uniforms to the Western Europeans”, me moving closer and leaning even deeper.
“Couldn’t paint anything so small”, moving onto the Swedish side and taking another quick succession of shots and then a close-up of some of the cavalry bases, with the same issues with the autofocus.
“This is the decisive Battle of the Saxon campaign of the Great Northern War and as a direct consequence Charles XII managed to obtain a peace treaty with Augustus II the Strong of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin was Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. after 6 years of war”, me getting very excited and with sweeping arm movements I am set up to transfer this essential knowledge of history to the man with the camera.
“Sorry not really interested, I am just taking pictures for my blog. Do you mind moving a little bit so I can take a picture showing the name of the Battle”, he interrupted me, I moved surprising swiftly out of his firing arc, he took his snap and then proceeded to the next table repeating the procedure.
I put my waving hands behind my back and carried on! I reflected on the fact that he would never know that the marshland on the Saxon/Russian left flank was moss from my garden baked in the oven then soaked with pva glue, that the hedges around the field were made from green scourers, that the reason the line was not straight were due to a miscalculation on the available space between the two villages by the Saxon Commander, that the Saxons/Russian had been standing in their position for ages and were freezing their balls off, that the reason I painted the Russians in Red Coats was that they had turned their coats inside out to look like Saxons, etc.
I was interrupted in my thoughts as another a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera came towards the table. I got my lean-in position ready.
The incident above made me laugh and I reflected on these unsung heroes rushing around taking pictures of stuff not for themselves but to share with other people who may be interested but not able to attend themselves – it s a great service and sacrifice! So to the Man with the Camera – thanks for doing this and sorry for retelling the story in what may be confused with irony or some kind of bitterness.
I find myself invariably drawn into a wargames table (yes we are drifting back towards that kind of thing again) and I am keen to understand what is going on and very often how things have been done and how it works – I am kind of into this hobby you see. It is not always obvious and I like it when a table either gives a nice history/story lesson and/or gives a great game – I love it when it does both. I also like nice terrain and clever solutions mainly with regards to decluttering the table of makers and instead using inventive markers that blend in with the table – it helps the immersion.
It is a lot of hard work and research behind most of the games that are presented at shows and my best advice when going to a show is to stop and talk to people and learn more. If you are shy just stand next to someone who seems to be part of the group until they are free and I bet someone will start talking to you. Grab a handout and ask, they did not just come to show of their game as a flashy post card in an album of many – let them give you its soul and perhaps you will fall in love with it to. Perhaps you could share this experience to the world with a little write-up and maybe a picture or two trying to convey what you felt about the game as a whole – not just what it looked like. I think we need a few more Walkthrough Reflectionists too – the slow walkthrough. Beauty, it is said, is only a paint layer deep!.
Are Demonstration Games the Opposite to Participation Games?
Some groups putting on games seem to treat shows as an outing and any passers-by as a distraction. They face inwards and normally seem to have entrenched themselves with everything they need for the day within reach – they are there to play their game with themselves. Luckily, I think these ones are in decline.
When Nick (Dorrell) and I do our Great Northern War battle we do them as demonstration games, but you can participate for as long as you like. Perhaps to try out some of the mechanisms of the game, we never expect to play the game to its conclusion – although, as a notable exception, we managed to finish Klissow 1702 a few years back at Joy of Six. The game is there as a discussion point in our case about the Battle itself, the rules we are using, the origins of miniatures and terrain, how we painted it and built it, etc. We have roles – I talk about the terrain and the miniatures (having painted and built it), Nick does the rules questions (having developed the latest set of the Twilight of the Sun King rules), we both talk about the Great Northern War (both being passionate about it). Anyone else helping gets a role depending on what they know, normally they will keep the game going.
Some time ago I heard, or perhaps read, Richard Clarke (one of the Too Fat Lardies) saying that he does not run dumbed down versions of the rules at shows to make it easy – he runs his rules as they come. I think it is important to reflect on this in how you want to present your game. I have had a lot of fun playing some game specific rules in 30 minutes at many shows, but we cannot run the Battle of Fraustadt in 30 minutes with the rules we are using – Sorry! Therefore we need to engage in a different view.
They key with a show game, in my opinion, is that it is should be there to engage with others should they want to. Have handouts to give out or to refer to, bring some books about the period (it always looks impressive) or props. We want people to get a feel for whether this kind of game, period, miniatures used, etc is something for them. Scaring people away will not showcase your particular niche of the hobby and to be honest it is at your own detriment.
Demonstration games should not be the opposite to participation games – you actually have to work as hard, or perhaps harder, interacting with the visitors. What the hell are you demonstrating? It is your flippin’ job on the show mate!, you may not get paid but you are taking up space.
Let me know what you think!
By the way, you have a chance to see whether this engagement talk is just bullshit at Joy of Six next week as Nick and I are putting on a table. You are free to ignore us, come by and take a photo and just go, or to stay around and ask a few questions if there is something of interest, or even stay and roll some dice for a while. We are happy to engage with you at any level you want.
We will be putting on a 9 by 12 table with 250 bases of the finest Russia and Sweden had to offer in 1708! – Horka 1708.
Check it up here. And here some background on the table we are putting on, but there are 22 other games ranging from ancients to sci-fi and pretty much anything in-between.