Lead astray or a hike to the snow cladded lead mountain – Part 2

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Swedes attacking a defended Saxon position (Miniatures from Baccus)

With a little help to my friends

Twilight of the Sun King Rules

Nick Dorrell’s adaptation of the Twilight of the Sun King Rules I talked about in an earlier blog (see here) are now published by the Pike and Shot society.  I really enjoy these fast play rules that makes it possible to play large horse and musket battles during late 17th and early 18th century in a reasonable time. Basing is adaptable and the rules works at two levels standard/brigade and regimental scale. In the standard scale a unit represents brigade or its equivalent (2,000 infantry or 1,000 cavalry – so about 4 battalions or 8 squadrons). For the regimental scale a unit equates to 1,000 infantry or 500 cavalry.  I play the game in the regimental scale, as I do GNW where the battles tends to be smaller and I have more than enough miniatures to play in this scale, using two 60 by 30mm bases for a unit with a total frontage of 120mm per unit. This is the same basing I use for the Polemos, Maurice and the Might and Reason rules. Further the units can be classified as small or large to allow for the variation in units sizes during the period, e.g. to deal with smaller elite units etc.

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The rules are, to quote Nick from 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.”

The Rules as well as a Scenario book is now available from the Pike and Shot Society and can be obtained from them, http://www.pikeandshotsociety.org/, and other retail outlets.

The scenario book is called Louis XIV at War and features 10 battles – 4 of these are from the War of the Grand Alliance (1688 to 1697) and the other 6 from the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). Each scenario includes orders of battles and a map.

A second scenario book is being worked on and will cover the Great Northern War and the Ottoman wars.

There is a Yahoo group:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TwilightSK/info

and you can contact nick via wyreforestgamers@yahoo.co.uk

Collection Calculator

Another friend of mine, Peter Riley, came up with an idea for a Wargames collection calculator when he went to the Newbury show this year. As he walked and talked to gamers at the show it emerged from the many conversations he had is that we don’t know, in detail, what we have in our collections and what they are worth.  So to keep a good record of all the elements we have in our growing collections seemed a good idea.

A beta website has been set up here – http://collectioncalculator.com/ . Peter is looking for feedback on what you may think.

I think it is a brilliant idea and could be used to manage your collection, get an idea about its value for a sale or how much to insure your collection for. Try it out and if you like the general idea support it by letting them know how it can be improved.

In a recent Meeples and Miniatures episode the hosts discussed the issue about insuring your stuff when they were speculating what they would do if they lost their collection and got the opportunity to do it all again being given the full value from the insurance company. If you do not know what you have and are not adequately insured then this scenario could end it tears and not in speculation on what you would replace or not.

By the way Peter Riley is the author of a few sets of wargame rules, including the ACW rules Crisis of Allegiance and On They Came as well as the Franco-Prussian Wars rules Kommandant de Battaile and Kommandant de Armee. He is working on a few new sets including a colonial set called A Steady and Deliberate Fire.

Winter is coming

I have presented two Great Northern War battles at the Joy of Six show that took place during the winter season with snow and misery on the battle field – Fraustadt 1706 (with a mention in an earlier post here) and Gadebusch 1712.   I really like wintery landscapes having been brought up in Sweden, where minus degrees and snow is a constant for a large part of the year. It engulfs the land and when Spring finally comes it feels like the land has been subjected to some form of annual cleansing.

When I first did the Fraustadt Battle I was hesitant in “winter basing” the armies as I was going to do Klissow where I could have “re-used” a lot of the miniatures especially on the Saxon side. However the contrast between a wintery table and the rectangular zone of summer really annoyed me when I had finished the table and set up the bases on it.  So I got on with drybrushing all of the bases with white and then topped them up with some wintery tufts – it was worth the effort. Following the Gadebusch battle I now have fully sized GNW armies for the Swedes, Saxons and the Danes ready to rumble any time of the year.

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The Saxon forces at Fraustadt did stand and wait for the Swedes for a while but I do not think that it resulted in the grass growing, or that they had some Astro Turf ready to roll out. I agree with the fact that basing should make the miniatures stand out but this a little bit over the top!

So apart from the snow ventures above I have a passion, or perhaps compulsion, for the Winter War 1939-40.  It is a very interesting conflict and I went with the Baker Company Winter War 28mm Kickstarter a few years back – the project did not really go as intended and I only got part of what I expected. Instead I decided to go for it in 15mm and have recently completed enough to start playing some  Chain of Command with a Platoon with some options for each side (I will do a future posting for the Finnish and the Russian/Sovietic platoon).  I am also keen to try out the IABSM (I ain’t been shot Mum) rules from Company Sized actions. Both these rules are from the eminent makers of rules at Too Fat Lardies (Chain of Command here and IABSM here).

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Finnish Soldiers from the 1939-40 Winter War. The Light Machine Gun is the M-26 7.62mm Lahti-Saloranta.  The picture is taken from SA-kuva (Finnish Armed Forces Photographs) and you can find their webpage here.  This is a conflict to which the lead mountain has attracted permanent visitors from a number of scales.

So for IABSM I have a few options, (i) expand the 15mm platoons for Chain of Command, (ii) use the Pithead 10mm ones I bought a few years back or (iii) try out the 6mm Finnish from Heroics and Ros.

I bought a few test strips from Heroics and Ros from their Finnish Range and also a strip from the Snow/Ski Troopers.  I decided to paint these and base them to see how they would look like and put them on a 65 by 65mm base. I am pleased how they came out and I think it will work well for the IABSM rules (although I would probably use 25mm bases) – I hope you agree (Note one of the pictures show some 15mm miniatures from the Chain of Command Finns).  I used some snow flock mixed with Matte Mod Podge for the basing, it looks slightly better for real than in the photos.  I am going to do a winter company for the Finns, Russians and Germans as they did some combined operations with the Finns.  With this scale it should not take very long to complete a company worth of miniatures. It will look fantastic.

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I think I have to order some more from Heroics and Ros. For the Pithead stuff, well I have no problem with it staying on the mountain for now!  The 28mm Baker Company stuff I did get I will probably get rid off.

Not really Winter but cold as death

About 2 months ago I wrote about some new 6mm miniatures from Microworld Games (see here). I did not buy the Landsknechts this time but I bought the new duelists and peasants as well as a large number of zombies and ghouls for another little project I am working on (I am doing the Saga Revenants faction in 6mm when I have time). Anyway, I got them this week as it was a pre-order, and I really liked the look of the duelists and the peasants – some of these will be used for my Sharp Practice games. I could not resist painting up a little vignette on a 60 by 60mm base with some zombies controlled by a witch/necromancer (from Perfect Six)  attacking three witch hunters (the duelists) supported by a few farmers.  This is a homage to a roleplaying scenario I played when I was a kid (well at least a younger kid) and actually a Christmas present to a very dear friend.

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Ok next time I will get on with some Great Northern War stuff and the Towards Moscow Project / Keep on toysoldiering!

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Gadebusch 1712 from Joy of Six 2015 – the Swedes advancing over the frozen fields towards the Danes.
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Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT) Part 1 – Overview

This rather long post officially closes the Lesnaya series that will be merged into the TMT series.  I, Nick Dorrell and the very decent chums of the Wyre forest wargames club will be doing three battles (2 that took place and one that could have been) from the Great Northern War covering the, from a Swedish perspective, ill-fated Russian campaign 1708 to 1709.  I will provide a brief overview here and on how many bases and figures we need for the project – there will be more historical background as we get into these projects in more detail. There is a lot to do. The Battles will be presented at the Joy of Six Shows 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I plan to do an update every 4 weeks on this particular project. I do try to update this blog on a weekly basis with other stuff I am working on or something else that takes my fancy. If you are interested in following this blog you could register your e-mail here or like the Roll a One group on Facebook or, if you prefer, come back from time to time.

Basing and Rules

As I already have thousands of 6mm GNW miniatures from previous projects I will base these new miniatures in the same way. This is in line with the GNW Polemos basing standard for 6mm figures and is done on bases measuring 60mm by 30mm. However these bases have been used to play with other good rules including Maurice (using two bases per unit which makes the column formation look funny but works), Might and Reason (the standard is two bases 50mm by 25mm per unit) and Twilight of the Sun King  without any problems. There are of course other rules that can be used for the period and invariably rules, I have found, can be adapted to whatever basing you have.  None of these rules are 6mm specific – so other scales works equally well. There are few things to consider when wargaming the early 18th century period in general and the Great Northern War in particular.

For Maurice there are some additional rules about more immobile artillery and pikes that needs to be included in a GNW setting and if you are using Might and Reason make sure you download the excellent (and free) module Sun King – A Module for Might and Reason 1689 to 1721 by Greg Savvinos.   This module contains special rules for the Swedes as shock troops (see notes below). I think the following from the module is a spot on summary of the Swedish Army and the King from a period of history that produced some amazing military victories for the Swedish army but also its greatest defeat.

“The Swedish army of the GNW was a formidable combination of regular and militia that had been forged together to form a devastating battle field force that was able to sweep its enemies from many a battlefield. One of the great strengths of the Swedish army was the capable team of leaders it fielded, headed by the soldier king Charles XII. Unfortunately whilst Charles was a brilliant battlefield commander, he was less than mediocre as a strategist or diplomat and ultimately led his country to disaster at Poltava. The Swedish Army never recovered from that catastrophe and the rest of the war marked a steady decline in its quality. Yet Charles was willing to keep fighting to the last Swede, and very nearly did so by the time he was felled by a bullet fired from the Swedish lines whilst besieging a Norwegian fortress in 1718”.

From the Might and Reason supplement “Sun King – A module for might and Reason 1689 to 1721” by Greg Savvinos

Whilst the Great Northern war was the twilight of the Swedish Great Empire it was the dawn of the Tsarist Russian empire.  I have to admit a bias in being Swedish but that does not blind me from the skillful and cautious build up and modernisation of the Russian army following the defeat at Narva in 1700.   On top of the organisational changes the army had gained valuable experience from the smaller campaigns in the Baltic States and Finland. The skillful strategy adopted by the Russians during the Russian Campaign itself by using scorched earth tactics (as was later used against Napoleon and Adolf Hitler) and the successful ambush on the reinforcement supply column are amongst some of the reasons that the Battle at Poltava ended in a total disaster for the Swedes.  Peter, who truly was Great, more or less on his own moved Russia from being a medieval and isolated culture to become a major european power with a strong army and navy.  The Russian army fighting the Swedish army during the Russian campaign is a better trained and more experienced force.

I find this essay on Peter the Great being a good summary of his achievements. I further recommend the brilliant book by Robert K. Massie on Peter the Great if you are interested in this period of history.

Sam Mustafa, who wrote Maurice (and Might and Reason), provided the following guidelines on his Honours forum for the national advantages to be used in Maurice for early 18th century battles (for both WSS and GNW –  I have just included the ones relevant to the GNW):

  1. Swedish:  a la Baionette, Steady Lads, Cavaliers, Clerics, Maison du Roi, Great Captain if Charles XII is in command
  2. Danish: Lethal Volleys
  3. Prussian: Steady Lads, Lethal Volleys.
  4. Saxon/ Polish:  Feudal if the army includes Poles.
  5. Russian 1695-1702: Feudal, At least half the regular units must be conscript.
    Russian 1703-1707: Maison du Roi, Feudal
    Russian  1708-1724: Steady Lads, Maison du Roi
  6. Ottomans: Feudal, Skirmisher, En Masse. No more than four regular Cavalry. At least 3 regular infantry must be conscript.

I think this is a good interpretation and the clerics represent the strong religious indoctrination of the Swedish army.  Priests and religion were central to the Swedish Army’s development of the discipline needed to successfully implement the offensive tactics.

“Morale and discipline unites them
A common faith to keep them strong
Always on their way to heaven
In the name of Christ their enemies chastise”

From the Song “The Carolean’s Prayer” by Sabaton

You can find a link to the GNW Polemos rules here written by Nick Dorrell. Nick, amongst other things, is also working on a new version/adapatation of the Twilight of the Sun King rules for this period but these are not yet in print.

Whatever rules you are using for this period and the specific theater of war in the east in summary you need to consider some issues special to this theatre:

  1. The use of pikes – The normal pike to musket ratio in the Swedish army was about 1 to 3 and for the Russian about 1 to 6 for the period leading up to and including the Russian campaign.
  2. Swedish shock tactics – The use of shock tactics by the Swedish Army, both by the infantry (with pikes and swords) and cavalry (with naked steel and wedge formation charges). These attacks focusing on speed and aggression took advantage of the, still, relatively low firing rates and expected the enemy to waver and flee, which indeed happened on may occasions. I and the little one was once charged by a band of reenacting English Civil War pike men and it was indeed a scary experience.
  3. Swedish Determination – The effectiveness of the Swedish army who seemed to win time and time again although numerically inferior to its enemies. This is elegantly solved in the Polemos rules by using a temporary determined status, giving benefit in combat, for some Swedish units where the “..opponents can work to take the ‘edge’ off the Swedish by seeking to remove this status. Also it was a useful device to show the difference between the main Swedish army and the troops available elsewhere. Often the troops in the minor armies and theatres did not have this ‘edge’”. 
  4. Troop types – including more varied cavalry units  including old style Panzerni, Polish hussars as well as light horse units.

Below is a slideshow of some GNW miniatures from my collection (They are all from Baccus) as a thank you for reading this far. There are Saxons, Russians, Polish and Swedes.

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Towards Moscow background and the Battles we will do

The campaign is the invasion of Russia by Charles XII of Sweden starting with the crossing of the frozen Vistula river in early 1708 and ends with the Swedish defeat in the Battle of Poltava in the Summer of 1709.  It is the beginning of the end for Sweden as a dominant military power in north-eastern Europe.

The Great Northern War in started in 1700 when a coalition formed by the 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 the belief was that the new and very young King (Charles the XII was 15 when his father died) 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 sign in Travendal 1700. The Russians were defeated at the Battle of Narva in 1700 but then the King turned his attention to Saxony-Poland and Augustus.  It took the King 6 years to defeat the Saxon-Polish and force the abdication of Augustus the Strong from the Polish crown (1706 Treaty of Altranstädt). 

The time had come to sort out the Russians.

For a summary of the Great Northern war there are a few good places to start: Learning Site, Wikpedia and the The eminent Tacitus Website.

I have used Nick Dorrell’s book Dawn of the Tsarist Empire that you can buy from Caliver books to derive the units present for the Battles and the bases needed (remember a base of infantry represents 400 to 600 men, about a battalion, and for cavalry 2 squadrons of about 200 to 250 men).  It is probably the best book available about the full Russian campaign written with the “wargamer in mind”.  I would also recommend Peter Englund’s fantastic  The Battle that Shock Europe about the Poltava Battle – this is probably the best book I have ever read with regards to battles and warfare.

For painting guidance and colours/standards I have copies of the excellent books Great Northern War 1700-1721: Colours and Uniforms Part 1 and Part 2, by Lars-Eric Höglund and Åke Sallnäs.  Not sure where these can be found nowadays more than the second hand market – for me these books are priced possessions. However a lot of information is readily available on the Tacitus Website (see above – with uniform detail for many battles) and is a good start. There is also a few relevant Osprey Books – Peter the Great’s Army Part 1 and Part 2 as well as a campaign book on Poltava  (I will go through some other sources and provide some overviews in future installations of some of the other, including Swedish, sources I have and will be using).

Lesnaya 1708

[116 bases, excluding commanders – a total of 1,424 miniatures]

[Wikipedia link here]

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The Battle of Lesnaya (1708) by Nicolas Lamessin (1722-24)

This is an interesting Battle and in effect is an ambush by a Russian flying detachment of a smaller Swedish army led by General Lewenhaupt escorting a supply column of more than 4,500 wagons for heading for the main Army in Ukraine.  From the perspective of doing the battle we need a lot of forest as well as about 40 or more bases to represent the supply column (wagons, carts, marching soldiers, etc). Please find the figure count for the Battle.

Russian Army (72 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 10 bases with 24 miniatures per base (240 miniatures)

Dragoons – 60 bases with 9 miniature per base (540 miniatures)

Artillery – 2 light gun bases (2 cannon with 6 crew)

Swedish Army (44 bases and 50+ bases to represent the convoy, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  17 bases with 24 miniatures per base (406 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse – 22 bases with 9 miniature per base (211 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 1 base with 7 miniatures per base (7 miniatures)

Artillery – 2 light gun bases and 2 field gun bases (4 cannon with 14 crew)

Train/Convoy – a large number of bases, say 50+

Horka 1708

[245 bases, excluding commanders – a total of 3,296 miniatures]

We were going to do the Battle of Holowczyn but instead decided to do a “what-if” battle at Horka 1708.  When Charles XII was waiting for Lewenhaupt and the supply column to arrive at Mogilev (Belarus) the Russians had occupied a strong position nearby at Horka (sometimes called Gorki). As noted in Nick’s book this could have been the site of the decisive battle of the campaign.  In reality the King decided not to attack – in our scenario he decided to “Gå-På” for it.

We went for this idea for the following reasons:

  • Although the position was beneficial for the Russians we felt that the balance between the forces was such that it would make an interesting battle with similar strength on both sides than the more one sided battle at Poltava battle at year later.
  • The Holowczyn battle was fought on a wide frontage, whilst this idea offers a more solid a classical (for the time) set up with a long line of soldiers getting on with it.

Currently we will run this what-if with the following forces (but since we have some artistic freedom it could change, e.g. we have no information of Russian cavalry at the Horka):

Russian Army (137 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 54 bases with 24 miniatures per base (1,296 miniatures)

Dragoons – 59 bases with 9 miniature per base (531 miniatures)

Kalmyk/Cossack Light Cavalry – 16 bases with 7 miniatures per base (112 miniatures)

Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 26 crew)

Swedish Army (108 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  28 bases with 24 miniatures per base (672 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse -66 bases with 9 miniature per base (594 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 6 bases with 7 miniatures per base (42 miniatures)

Artillery – Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 26 crew)

Poltava 1709

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Battle of Poltava 1709 by Denis Martens the Younger (1726)

[354 bases, excluding commanders and a total of 4,758 miniatures]

[Wikipedia link here]

The final installation will be the disastrous Poltava in 1709 that from a war game perspective will be a spectacle with a big table and many troops – however most of them are Russians (or fighting on their side) and it will be impossible for the Swedes to win. 42,000 men on the Russian side and 17,000 on the Swedish side. However if we can not go for playability we will go for spectacle and ensure the table is large and that units not directly involved are also included on the table. In addition the Russians had 86 cannons vs the 4 the Swedes brought to the battlefield.  So if we are struggling with playability we will put on a spectacle and make the table bigger and include units in the area including the Siege at Poltava itself. This gives us the following miniature figure count for the Poltava battle, subject to review before the day of battle (July 2019).

Russian Army (266 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry – 89 bases with 24 miniatures per base (2,136 miniatures)

Dragoons – 132 bases with 9 miniature per base (1,188 miniatures)

Kalmyk/Cossack Light Cavalry – 30 bases with 7 miniatures per base (210 miniatures)

Artillery – 11 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (15 cannon with 47 crew)

Swedish Army (91 bases, excluding command bases)

Infantry –  18 bases with 24 miniatures per base (432 miniatures)

Dragoons/Horse – 41 bases with 9 miniature per base (369 miniatures)

Vallacker Light Cavalry – 4 bases with 7 miniatures per base (28 miniatures)

Cossack Light Cavalry – 20 bases with 7 miniatures per base (140 miniatures)

Artillery – 4 light gun bases and 4 field gun bases (8 cannon with 28 crew)

That is all for this time, I hope to show some progress on the Sharp Practice project next week.

/ All the very best