Nick Dorrell, his Merry Wyre Foresters and I presented the Poltava 1709 6mm table at Salute yesterday and had a smashing day. We talked with so many people that came by of all ages, some knowing more than others about the period and the scale. We had a constant flow of people to our table up to about 1pm an after this it slowed down. For everyone that came to our table during the day I hope that either the table or our interaction with you blew you away, hopefully at least the former but I wish the latter too. I also, as always had great help from the family with the Better One and the Little One both making sure I got there and back safely.
Here some pictures of it all. All miniatures are by Baccus 6mm, the miniatures are based for playing the Twilight of the Sun King rules but we have used them for a number of rule sets over the years. I have made a very short summary of the rules here.
Here some pictures of the table.
Anyway halfway through the day we were presented with an award from the organisers of Salute – The South London Warlord. I have to admit I did not expect us to get it, but I think it was about time not for me but for a lot of small scale gamers out there old a and new. I am certainly no one-trick pony and I do understand the merits of each scale as a tool for telling a story – the Battle of Poltava needed to be told like this, the Town that was laid under Siege by the Swedes to force the Russian to give battle, the dense Yakovetski forest was there so we could understand how some of the Swedish Battalions got lost in it, and one of the key surprises was the fact that the Russians had built 10 redoubts slowing down the Swedish advance, all this before the main battle and not possible to show in less than 16 feet at 6mm with a battalion frontage of about 60mm – it would be tough to do it in 28mm.
In doing an inventory of the Units I had before the show I realised I had done about 20 bases of Dragoons I had surplus to my requirement and therefore thought I could do something for the hobby. Every person I noticed and judged being 10 years or under that came to the table during the day and showed some interest I gave a base. I had given away 15 at the end of the day and had a small talk with them and their Dad or Mum. They all now know the difference between a Dragoon and a Standard Cavalry unit during the period.
I did not declare this as I wanted to to make it as a surprise and I only had 20 bases and did not want to let anyone down. Anyway I wanted to do this on the back of dragging around the Little One to wargames shows since he was 5 years old and having him being occasionally either ignored or looked at like he was Satan himself. I, and more importantly he, cherishes the times when someone talked to him and engaged with him directly and got him involved. I just wanted to try to create a few of those moments.
If you are interested in the Poltava project there is a lot of posts on my blog covering various aspects of it, I think these are the main ones (the first two showing a lot of pictures of the set up).
It has been a little bit of a strange year with a lot of pressures making it difficult to devote as much time as I would like to the hobby – but in retrospect and upon reflection I seem to have been doing a lot more than I thought. I had lots of fun with the hobby and that is what it is there for!
This is a summary blog of the year and contain some additional pictures not covered in any published blogs. I hope you will find this review interesting. I take my hat off for all of you who engage with the blog directly, follow the roll a one page on faceboook (Roll a One, @rollaonepage) or the Per at RollaOne feed on twitter – It really matters to me – so thank you very much. I had as an unwritten rule to do a blog every week, this year I have managed to do 41 blog posts – so I failed the objective but I am happy with that. I could easily have dragged this one out over a few blogs with the extra material but wanted to make a long one of this last one.
The most popular blog post this year was this one detailing how you can enhance your 6mm, or any scale, pictures using your computer screen. Bleeding obvious to me but a lot of people have found it useful!
This blog post has a lot of pictures and links (these are the underlined sections, they lead directly to the blog post I am talking about) and basically covers:
Poltava 1709 and Joy of Six 2019
Battle of Lund 1676 project
Gaming with the Little One and a book from Henry Hyde
WW2 What-if Invasion of Sweden in 1943 and roundpole fences
The Mutant 1984 Project and our Christmas Mutant Dinosaur Hunt
Being on Podcasts and some other stuff
Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six 2019
This was the culmination of a three year project covering the Russian Campaign of the Great Northern War and this year I presented Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six show in Sheffield. This has been a fantastic project and this 16 by 5 feet table actually made me somewhat emotional when I first put it up on the Show (but then each one is pretty special at the time). I did plenty of blog posts about the project this year, you can find them below. We will put up the table again in 2020 at Salute in April. This project was done using 6mm Baccus miniatures.
Here are some of the blog-posts covering this topic ( The last few are the finished article the others about how various elements were done).
Gaming with the Little One and a book from Henry Hyde
I have had immense pleasure in engaging with the Little One yet again this year in painting, playing games and going to a few events together. He even wrote a review of the Airfix Battles Rules and about his day at Salute on the Blog. When I asked him about the highlights this year he told me that it was the book he was sent by Henry Hyde, the day we had playing Mike Whitaker’s Omaha game and doing the Star Wars Legion miniatures (more in the links at the end of this section).
The Little One and I met Henry Hyde at Salute (who of course wrote the Wargames Compendium, was the editor for Miniature Wargames & Battlegames and now runs the Battlegames Patreon Site that I am a supporter of, see link here https://battlegames.co.uk/patreon-supporters/ . Please check it out as there is a lot of good stuff there in terms of podcasts, videos and articles – whether you are a supporter or not).
On the way back Max realised that the Henry we had met was the same guy that had written the Wargames Compendium, a book he really loves, and said that he should have asked for an autograph. I mentioned this to Henry and a few days later, to our great surprise and delight, a parcel arrived with a letter and a book.
It is was an enormously generous gesture and one of those moments I think the Little One will carry with him for his whole life – many thanks Henry! The Little One then read the Featherstone book and wrote a letter he sent to Henry that made me really proud.
Many thanks for sending me the Donald Featherstone book, it was very kind of you and it made me feel very special. I like the words you wrote and I will keep this book forever. It has taken me some time to finish the book as I have had a few other things going on.
I enjoyed the introduction where he writes about ‘what wargaming is’ and also the overview of the different periods for wargaming – my favourite period is WW2. You have so many different aspects of things going on – on land, in the air, on and under the water and you are not sitting around in a trench for four years as in the Great War. At the very end of the book he writes something I really liked! “General Sherman, of American Civil War fame, is quoted as saying, ‘War is Hell’. So it is, and perhaps the wargamer, seeing just how helpless his little plastic figures are against the dice simulated effects of cannon and muskets, will appreciate more than ever the utter futility of real war.”
I also have a copy of your book, The Wargaming Compendium, and I think it is the best book a wargamer can get as it covers everything you need to know. In particular I like the chapter on understanding sizes, scales and chance. I love the picture on page 17 showing the different scales.
I hear you are writing another one and I hope it is going really well!
I know you like the Horse and Musket period so I thought you might like this Kings Carabineer from the Battle of Blenheim 1704 and a book about the Battle of Poltava.
WW2 What-if Invasion of Sweden in 1943 and roundpole fences
Some further works was done for the 1943 German invasion forces and defending Swedes. Making some transports for the Swedes with some tanks (including conversions) and a large number of German soldiers and vehicles. I also updated the Chain of Command list for the Swedes. More in the blog posts below (that is also including a note on the visit I did to Dulwich playing Chain of Command at the Warlords Lardy Day – thanks Iain!).
One of the best things that happened to this project this year was the roundpole fences developed by Paul Edwards (@Amaz_ed on Twitter if you want to contact him, or let me know and I will pass it on) that will enable me to give that special feel of gaming in Scandinavia/Nordic much in the same way as Snake Rail fencing indicate a wargame in North America.
How is this relevant to you if you do not play anything in Norway, Finland, Sweden or Estonia (where these fences are common) – well according to some theories they were in use during Viking times so if you are doing Dark Age wargaming (or Colonials as we Norse call it). So if you want to create that little Norse settlement in your Saga game or some other game including some Vikings and want to make it feel a little bit special than maybe this beautiful fencing will be an idea.
I asked Paul if he could help me out and quicker than I could say Gärdsgård – the name of the fence in Swedish – I now have 4-5 meters of it and I hope you agree it looks good.
The ones I have has been made for 15mm but Paul can make some in 6mm and 28mm too.
These are the ones I will be using for my Scanian War project.
These are a few in 28mm with some Mutant 1984 characters.
Paul also does some gate options.
I have also found a reasonable Vallejo mix for Falu Rödfärg.
Here are some postings for the Swedish WW2 project (as in all my posts there is plenty of pictures in each of them). The next step is to produce two half-sized campaign for Chain of Command (or any other Platoon based set of rules).
In addition we had a special Xmas game this year based on a vote we did on Twitter where the Mutant 1984 Dinosaur won the Day (beating Winter War, Swedish invasion 1943 and a “proper” GNW battle!). We used a variant of the The Men who Would be King rules (the same as in the Border Skirmish above) and it was a fun game with two factions of soldiers and hunters trying to take out as many Monsters as possible (2 Dinosaurs, a Giant Beetle, a Four armed Gorilla, 2 Swedish Tigers, a Dark Young of Stubb-Nigarakan) whilst fighting each other. I did not do a write-up but instead I have included a bunch of pictures from the game.
The Swedish (Sabre Tooth) Tigers are based on the Swedish Wartime information Poster stating “En Svensk Tiger” that means both “a Swedish Tiger” and “a Swede Shuts-Up”.
Being on Podcasts and some other stuff
Any regular reader of this blog will know that I have a few wargaming podcasts that I like to listen to whilst I paint and model – these are in no particular order the Veteran Wargamer, The Lardy Oddcast, Meeples and Miniatures, Havoc Cast Podcast, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, Wargames Recon, Henry Hyde’s Battlechats and God’s Own Scale Podcast. They are all excellent and whilst I occasionally listen to others, those are my solid ones I will try to listen to every time (I listen to a fair few more non-wargaming stuff like the eminent Grognards RPG Files and We have ways and Audible books).
This year I have been humbled by having been asked to come on three of these shows and talk about stuff mainly relating to the 6mm work I have been doing, but also about wargaming with children and my great passion – the Great Northern War.
A few weeks ago Neil Shuck announced that he will stop the Meeples and Miniatures podcast as he has reflected on the time it takes to do the show and other priorities like gaming with friends etc. Meeples and Miniatures has, in my opinion, become like a wargaming (and Meeples) institution and its legacy is enormous and Neil and the other presenters (Mike, Mike, Dave, Rich and all the guest presenters) should be enormously proud of having created this. I felt so honoured to be asked to attend the show and had a blast – so much that it was enough to fill two episodes (sorry!, but thanks Neil and Mike for having me).
When I listened to Sean Clarke’s episode 0 and he declared that one of his inspirations to starting his blog (focusing on 6mm an history) was the work I have been doing with this blog – it made that and many days last year. I contacted him and asked if I could come and talk to him and we had a great time talking about the 6mm stuff I have been doing but also getting an idea of Sean Clarke’s upcoming WW1 project for Joy of Six in 2020. This is another excellent show and I really like all the episodes to date with many friends from the 6mm trenches. The show with Robert Dunlop (No 3.) is one of the best Podcasts I heard last year. Thanks Sean for my second outing this year – I had an absolute blast.
Henry’s Battlechat has very quickly built up an impressive catalogue of podcasts with a wide range of guests from the industry, rules designers, miniatures producers, artists, book publishers, academics, etc. I have stolen parts of Henry’s intro for this:
“Per is a wonderful ambassador of the hobby, friendly, approachable, intelligent and with a dry sense of humour that you might only notice when you’re halfway out of the door after meeting him! (Watch out for his comment about the Dark Ages being “Scandinavian colonial”!) Here, then, is this Swedish superstar of the hobby in full flow, waxing lyrical about 6mm gaming, the Great Northern War and other Scandinavian conflicts of the 17th and 18th centuries, making snow-covered terrain and the joys of being a wargaming parent.”
Finally I would like to say that my favourite wargaming thing this year was the visit I did to Evesham and OML7 (Operation Market Larden No. 7) – Thanks to Ade et al for this. I met so many nice people and had a fantastic time playing some great games.
80 years ago Finland was fighting for its independence against Soviet Union in what has become known as the Winter War. The war has a personal connection to me as the family on my mother’s side is Finnish. We have therefore fought a few battles using the Chain of Command rules to honour and remember the people on both sides who fought and died in this war.
The war started with a Soviet Invasion of Finland without a declaration of war on the 30th November 1939, the war ended 105 days later on 13th March 1940. More than 25,000 Finnish died and many were wounded. At the end of the War Finland was still an independent state but had lost about 10% of its territory and 12% of the population lost their homes and where re-settled. The Soviet Union’s losses were far higher and somewhere in the order of 150,000. The campaign was badly planned and conducted by the Soviets and the Finns fought bravely and with great skill.
Here are few pictures from one of these battles, somewhere along a country road…
This is a quick report back from Joy of Six focusing on the table Nick, Andrew, Neil (from the Wyre Foresters, thanks to all of you!) and I put up on the day. there are some additional reflections and pictures of the show overall that I will issue sometime this coming weekend. Thanks to everyone who came by we really enjoyed the feedback!
The Towards Moscow Trilogy
More than three years ago I decided to have a go at doing a few battles of the ill-fated Russian campaign (1707-1709) of the Great Northern War 1700-1721. I set out the plan in a blog post (link here) and the three battles we would cover were:
Lesnaya 1708 – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2017:
Horka 1708 (a what-if battle that would allow us to field a more balance army composition and linear battle that would be the case for the battles of the Campaign) – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2018:
This year it was a 16 foot table and the disastrous (from a Swedish perspective) Battle of Poltava. Here are a number of pictures from the day with the occasional comments and some link on how some elements of the tables was being made – we were far to busy talking to people to even have a go at actually trying to play it! I think the vision of a grand spectacle was achieved, hope you enjoy (if you have any comments do get it touch through the blog and ask away):
In writing this there is about 10 days to the Joy of Six show 2019, the best 6mm wargames show in the world and a damn good show overall. I am now just polishing off some old stuff I need to take with me and doing some play aids for the day – a little presentation handout for visitors, some cards for the commanders and a list of the forces we will use.
If you do come to the show, please come and say hello. I will appreciate it ,but do forgive me if I seem distracted and do not give you the attention you deserve – it is normally a tiring day and I tend to be a little bit emotional as very often it is the first time I see the fruits of my labour – I tend to see the things I could have done better rather the positive things I hope others do! I had a vision on how it would look and the story I wanted it to tell and I hope it will come through.
Peter has invited me to some kind of panel during the day that I am looking forward to.
You can read more about who will be there on this link (Baccus homepage).
In summary Nick Dorrell, the Wyre Foresters and I will put on Poltava 1709, it will be 4,500 miniatures on the table and although it only at about 1/20 to the real number on the day I do hope it will give the illusion of a grand battle taking place – I will do a further posting on the battle mat that is now complete later this week as well as some files with the hand-outs, this is a short update showing some of the elements that will figure on the day, (i) the Siege lines and (ii) King.
To provoke the Battle the King (Charles XII) laid siege to Poltava (and I have presented the rather large model of it before – link here) and there is a more elaborate story about this than the scope of the current battle. The Russian had counter redoubts and the Siege lines were more complicated.
To achieve some kind of stylised and re-cyclable solution I decided to use the coving strips I had used for doing the redoubts to create bases of trenches (link to those here) – taking this further one could make many of these and perhaps even do a little Siege game using tiles moving towards the besieged city/fort/town. I used some engineers from Baccus to show the men working with the digging – these were mainly Cossacks. The basic idea can be seen below.
Adding some filler, sand and a little bit of paint and we got something like this.
…then combining them with some artillery positions I created earlier (Baccus miniatures) creates that little point I want to make about some Siege lines and artillery being present on the day.
The clutter (Barrels, sacks and boxes) are from Perfect Six miniatures (link here) who do a nice range of stuff for your battle fields to add that little flair that makes the immersion greater – they also do a range of 6mm fantasy figures that is fantastic. Below some of the fantastic stuff you can get from Perfect Six.
The Swedish King
Charles XII was shot in the foot before the battle and was carried around on a litter during the battle – some accounts states it was carried by horses, but I chose to make is a man carried version – perhaps it was carried like this too?
I then added some soldiers and officers to the base and used my non-trademarked method to take shots with some backgrounds (link here).
/That was all for this time, hope it was of some interest
I have a lot of trees for my wargames tables and I love the effect they give, sometimes (if suitable) I just add some of them on the fringes whether it has any practical use in the scenario or not. I do think they enhance the overall experience, compared to say a dark green piece of felt (or even worse some 2D wood tiles).
As some of you may be aware, I tend to put on large tables for my games at Joy of Six. I have slowly increased my collection of trees and probably reached what I thought was a peak for my 2107 table showing the Battle of Lesnaya 1708 (more about it here).
However, for this years Poltava table I needed more.
Even at the smaller scale I working with, the cost of buying some wargames specific trees quickly gets costly at the quantities I am looking for. So for my no-pine-tree trees I have gone for the ones you in bulk from china on ebay. This is a typical set of 60 trees at about 15p a tree.
You could then base them individually on bases, I tend to use washers, with small stickers underneath to cover the hole , cut the tree trunk and then glue it in the middle with some 2 part epoxy glue, before basing decoration. Do not forget to spray them with hairspray, scenic cement or clear matt varnish to seal the tree cover as this otherwise easily falls off over time.
There is a clear benefit in doing this as the trees individually stores very easily in a box or something like that.
Another issue is that some of the colours are a little bit more unnatural looking than others. You can rectify this at a very low cost by adding some additional colour to the tree. I tend to use some Dark Green Coarse Grass from Javis as well as some of the Mid-Green variety and did a mix – but you may have some other suitable flock in your collection (perhaps avoiding the static grass type).
I then apply some PVA glue on the tree trying to cover most of it and dip it in the mix.
Let it dry, then apply hairspray/varnish/scenic cement because this will fall off very quickly otherwise.
This is a comparative shot, before and after (I think it is worth it).
In addition I wanted to make some forest tiles using CDs – most of us have tons of old CDs, or DVDs, and you could perhaps save a few from going to landfill. Make sure they are not your back-ups of old photos or something like that.
I made a fair few and although they are not as practical to store as the individual trees they allow a quicker deployment on the table and you can decorate the overall area (e.g. the CD) nicely.
They work well with both my 6mm and 15mm stuff — perhaps not as good for 28mm.
In addition I bought some N Gauge rock / mountain / outcrop scenery pieces to use for the Poltava battlefield to break down he overall flatness of the kind of mat I will be using. I bought the set shown in the picture below and another slightly more expensive.
The work really well in the scales I am using (most of them can just be laid flat on the table). I think it will work wonders in creating that look of a battle field that is not completely flat and saved me some time. They are made from plaster – I guess dental plaster – and painted and decorated as shown in the pictures below.
Both the trees and the rocks will allow me to create that little extra flair to the battle board that allows that magic immersion to set in.
The accounts of the Poltava Battle and the Siege of the town itself states that the houses/village outside the city were burnt down in a measure to avoid them being used as hiding places for the Swedes as they laid Siege to the town (the rather big model of the Poltava itself can be found here). This was a very common measure as a clear area was needed in front of the defensive walls.
I wanted to mark this on the mat for the battle by doing some ruined/burnt down buildings. I checked quickly what was available to buy from various sellers but found mostly WW2 biased stuff in the scale, like bigger buildings and in general two storey buildings – it did not really fit my 18th century rural Russian theme. I reckoned I could have a go at building something myself that would do the job, here is a rough guide showing how I made them.
This is a very simple project and I hope it is of some use! It is very quick to do! – provided you have some glue and matches. You could of course use tooth picks as well.
That was all for now, Please play with matches carefully!
In an earlier blog posting I showed my prototype Russian redoubt for the Poltava Battle (see link here, that also describes how they were made). These were hastily fortifications that caused the Swedes a lot of trouble during the march up to the field where the main Battle was fought.
You can read more about the redoubt battle on the eminent Tacitus webpage here.
In this update we will cover:
The finalised redoubts
Some casualty markers to show whether a redoubt has been taken or not.
A few Swedish Siege Artillery pieces
All scratch built with Baccus 6mm miniatures, using a lot of their dismounted dragoons and casualty figures from the WSS and GNW range.
Hope that was of some interest!
Let us see that Dalregiment gentleman again! – the flag with the Dalecarlian bolts is waiving in victory. Wish it had gone like that on the day though!
In the last update on the Poltava project that will be laid out at Joy of Six in July this year I presented Poltava itself and I wrote about it here.
As I have stated on a number of occasions, this is just one of the many features I want to capture on the Battle Field. In an earlier update I showed some plans I had in doing the Swedish camp.
I had no idea whether a tent was standardised or not (but since everything else was I assumed it would be) and got some input from Oskar Sjöström who works at the Swedish Army Museum (and also wrote a brilliant book on the Battle of Fraustadt 1706) in the form of photos of tents from re-enactment groups (the one below representing enlisted tents).
In addition I came across this old document from 1699, showing an officers tent. It is signed by the King himself (Carolus, Charles XII) – straight on top of the drawing.
Another prominent feature of the camp are the Swedish Supply wagons, these were based on another design from the Period (I wrote a blog on how I made these wagons for the Lesnaya project here).
The overall design of the camp is based on how a battalion camped during the era, and I used the following picture as an inspiration (from the book Poltava 1709 – Vändpunkten, by Moltusov and Lyth).
For this years Joy of Six project, you may be aware, I needed to represent the Town of Poltava, in searching for some maps from the era I came across this beautiful map from the period showing the Battle of Poltava 1709, it was made by Anna van Westerstee Beeck. She produced a lot of maps showing battles of the period for the Great Northern War and the War of the Spanish Succession (more here and here).
Anyway the focus today is Poltava itself (see below). we can see the Swedish Siege lines on the left. I wanted to capture the general feel of the town – wooden walls and the wall in the middle.
I set out some ideas on a 6mm mdf board.
I then built up a some walls with 6mm underfloor heating polystyrene and tooth picks.
The wooden towers required some thought and was made using pieces of lego cladded with tooth picks and I then made one roof and made a mould from putty silicon and produced enough for all the towers.
Anyway, here it is, buildings from Total Battle and Timecast.