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).
The following is a companion blog post for the Lund 1676 battle that will be presented at the Virtual Joy of Six 2021 on Sunday 4th July 2021 (starting 10am, UK time, more detail will follow on Baccus.com). It contains the Ordre de Bataille that is used to set up the table and play the game presented, also the unit types and qualities used for the battle. These a specifically for the Sun Kings rules, but I hope you could have some use of these for whatever rules you use. The idea is aggressive Swedish Units but not up to the quality we would expected in the Great Northern war – a lot of the galloping horse (i.e. shock cavalry) are using the tactics but are classed as raw due to lack of experience in the method (with a few exceptions). Similar the Danes used the Caracole and this have been classified as Poor Cavalry but trained (bad tactics but good soldiers). Similar for the infantry but we have assumed all units as trained. The extra morale factor for the Swedes often used in the Great Northern War is not present in this battle. Note that a large number of the Swedish units are classified as small due to the very small numbers of reported men in the battalion or the squadrons.
Note that we used a base width of 30mm and therefore most units where 60mm wide (battalion scale lite, as this does only one battalion and 2 squadrons per units, instead of the normal two battalions and 4 squadrons per base. We used some odd 30mm bases and used these are an additional base for the large units and this base, was taken away when the first morale loss was failed (simulating the additional resilience of the large unit). Also note that the Dutch Sailors have been given the inferior infantry classification, this means that they are always inferior to the normal infantry units in melee and in musketry. As for cavalry the Swedes had 12 guns and the Danes 56 guns, I have given the Swedes 2 gun bases and the Danes 6, perhaps the Swedes only deserve one?
/ Hope that was of some interest, let me know how you have interpreted Lund 1676, and I hope you check out Joy of Six, there will be plenty of 6mm related things to explore.
The following draft document contains some background to the two armies that forms part of the 6mm Chartity Project that is currently in full Swing (you can read more about this project here).
The Battles that will be eventually be fought will utilise the fine Twilight of the Sun King (ToSK) ruleset. The lists for the two armies (Denswe and Siarus) has been developed by Nick Dorrell who also wrote the latest set of the ToSKrules. The key design philosophy was to create two armies that had a similar composition on the table but being totally different in terms of play. The armies developed are in this sense at a high level reflective of the fragmented information we have about the actual battlefield tactics of the two armies. Nick has done extensive research at the Military Academy of Burgothen studying the drill manuals of the period, the King of Denswe’s (Markus Backhus) diaries and the writings of Repet Rerby after the war. The collected writings of Field Marshal Exas who then served as a Cornett in the Barnov Kuirasserse regiment has been an invaluable source in assessing the battlefield performance and composition of the Siarus army. The writings of the Siarus Commander Drevesina that to date has been the common account for these wars has to a large extent been disregarded in line with Professor Drallop’s damning conclusions in his book about him (I know some wargamers will miss the Burning Denswean Pigs, the Siarusian Battle Hounds and the magical skills of the Tsar).
The Denswe army has a number of powerful trained charging units, but also an element of more traditional units that are wavering (i.e. lacking loyalty as allies) and an element of raw units (the fanatics) facing a more traditional army as we would expect in a Horse and Musket battle between say 1680 to 1710. I think the stats and general gist of the army could be easily translated to whatever your rule system of choice is for the period. (Note: we will play the rules with only one base per unit, as opposed to the more common 2 bases per unit as the armies are relatively small).
The guide also contains the coat and cuff information for each regiment that was finalised before the units were sent out to the volunteer charity painters. Some changes have been made to this list and some bonus units added.
It also contains infantry standards for the regiments, these were developed with the help of our expert consultants Mark Backhouse (Denswe) and Sidney Roundwood (Siarus).
The main sources for the uniforms and flag information for the Denswe army comes from Archives of the Military Museum in Holmstock, that I had the pleasure of visiting on several occasions during 1987 and 1988. I fondly remember the cold mornings rummaging through the collections and then spending the rest writing and referencing following by the wild evenings of dancing, drinking and singing. Some further reference material, especially on the Siarus army, has been found from the city of Cowmos official Library of War. The collected work and the drawings of Major Nevscire on the Kuirasserse (unpublished) at the Tavapol State Archives, deserves a special mention and has been invaluable in terms of detail and to validate some earlier (often false) assumptions from the more popular Denswe sources.
Later updates of this guide will contain a picture of each unit with the name of the painter who brought it to life. It will also contain a little bit of a geographical overview
A Guide to the Army of the Tsar of Siarus
The Tsardom of Siarus has undergone great changes in recent years. The new Tsar has reformed and modernised the army from what in essence was a feudal arrangement with nobles providing foot and mounted units, to a more modern army in line with those developed in the wars between Great Tainbri and the Kingdom of Necfra. These changes have been pressed into service and has led to some problems within the army but should provide a solid platform for military success in the forthcoming campaign.
Leadership: Command of the army is entrusted to General and Field Marshall Kruglaja Drevesina. Drevesina is a flamboyant and masterful strategist and his skill in logistics in secondary to none, but he is only an average battlefield commander.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 1
Generalnyj Bogatyj Koži (Left Wing Commander) is an able commander but his flexibility on the Battlefield is limited due to his physical health. People who do not fear losing their head say he is a Too Fat Lardie.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 1
Generalnyj Čempion Šuk (Right Wing Commander) was recently promoted to General following a successful charge against the Horde. Unstructured and inexperienced of high-level Command.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 0
The Tsar’s Guard: Under the command of three of the closest childhood friends of the Tsar the three Guard regiments of the Siarusian army are the premier units of the army. The Plaudetski, Carraletdinov and Kenatonov regiments are the oldest units in the reorganised army and are armed with a 1/6 ratio of pike just like the normal line units. Only chosen men are enrolled in these units and the Tsar himself often accompanies one of them in action.
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Foot: Elite, Infantry, ‘p’
The Nobles: The Count of Xam-Denbro leads this elite regiment of cavalry in the army (Hussari). The unit is the only surviving unit of the old style of cavalry and originated from a mercenary unit raised from the heroes of Andpol after the Siege of Navien. The Tsar has a nostalgic attachment to the unit but there are rumours that once the aging Count retires his commission the unit will be scrapped. The Count is committed to show the Tsar, and his young cronies, that he has made an error converting the old-style units. Armed and equipped in traditional fashion, with heavy armour, lances, and flapping wings, and very eager to engage the enemy and prove their value.
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Count Xam-Denbro Regiment: Elite, Cavalry, Galloping Horse – impetuous[The unit must attempt to move into contact with any enemy unit that it can reach within its movement allowance. If more than one is available, it must contact the nearest.]
The Horse: The 7 regular Horse regiments of Garetsimov, M Hunvicnikov, Hiscyshkin, Barnov, Dorrenev, Baldiliev and Princess Andralex are the backbone of the Siarusian cavalry (the Kuirasserse). The units represent the first wave of reforms and consists of a mix or foreigner and Siarus nationals, they are well trained and experienced cavalry. The Garetsimov’s regiment was originally raised by the Gueseportu émigré Jose Di Maio. Later made a Prince of Siarus and was instrumental in helping the Tsar in building his navy including the introduction of the Man o’ War ships.
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Cuirassier Regiments: Trained, Cavalry
The Dragoons: The new Tsar insisted that the old-style units were reformed as Dragoons and there are 6 regular Dragoon regiments of the army: the regiments of Bailvin, Earparov, Ripelev, Davisirikov, Bowtiak and Simmutov. Although the units are trained, they are still not very competent in the new tactics they have been told to use. This has also led to them having lower morale as they lack confidence in their new role.
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Dragoon Regiments: Trained, Cavalry, Poor
The Regular Foot and artillery: The 5 regular foot regiments are the Naylosov, Blakrutov, Nillionov, Fulvukhin and J Hunvicnikov. These units are steady regular units relying on solid defensive tactics using fire power to defeat their opponents. Thus, whilst they retain pikes in the units for security against cavalry and infantry attacks the emphasis is more on firepower than shock action.
The Fulvukhin, Nillionov and J Hunvicnikov regiments are classed as Large units. These come from the most populous regions of Siarus and are larger than the others
The artillery led by the reformer Count Melepev has the latest field guns compared to the heavy artillery of old. The Count is more than sure that he can outshoot the arrogant commoner Colonel Jakgöta in charge of the Denswe Artillery.
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Foot Regiments: Trained, Infantry, ‘p’, (3 regiments are large) Artillery: Trained, Field Artillery
Overview of the Siarus Army
A Guide to the Army of Denswe
The dynamic King Markus Backhus has introduced new aggressive tactics into the regular army that has proven successful in many of his battle. These tactics emphasises the shock element hoping the enemy will flee the field of battle instead of prolonged fire fight. The King and his advisors are confident that these tactics will give the steady troops of his army the edge in the coming war against Siarus. All the Denswe mounted and foot units, from the homeland provinces, are using these aggressive charging tactics. The tactics is commonly referred to as Go Punching (GP)– referring to the hand-to-hand emphasis.
The small main Denswe main army are supplemented by units raised from the newly acquired Niasca province and the fanatical followers of Repet Rerby.
Overall, these troops provide their leader with a formidable army that have been the victors of many battles, albeit against smaller countries. The army marches to war confident that further victories will be achieved against the heretic Siarusians.
Leadership: King Markus Backhus is an excellent tactician who was born to rule. He can be reckless but is very stubborn and loves to win.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 2
The left wing is Commanded by Prince Olaf Saylind Backhus, the Kings uncle. He is a solid and experienced Commander but currently lacks the skill and nerve of his nephew. His fondness for the bottle is well known in the army and often carries out his inspections being drunk.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 1
General Repet Rerby (see more about Rerby’s Fanatics below) is untested in Battle but the King believes in his leadership.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: 0
Denswean Homeland Horse Grenadiers: The elite of the Denswe army is the Horse Grenadiers, or the Trabants, led by Duke Heinrich von Hyde. This unit is the de facto Royal Guards. Their charge has been the main cause of many of the Denswe victories to date. A sight to behold on the battle field with their tall Mitre Grenadier hats with golden front plates reflecting the sun light as they gallop in with their charge. The Duke’s resilience, resistance, and resourcefulness in the face of danger is legendary. He fought for the Siarusians at the Siege of Navien repelling the Great Horde.
Twilight of the Sun King rating: Horse Grenadiers: Elite, Cavalry, GH, Small, Determined
Denswean Homeland Cavalry and Dragoons: The only difference between the cavalry and the dragoons in the Denswe army is how they are funded. The Cavalry units are raised by the Three Chalices church and are in general better paid. The Dragoons are raised by the Burghers are in general seen as less prestigious than the Cavalry. However, on the battlefield their role and performance are identical.
The Dragoon units have provided drafts for the newly raised Rerby’s fanatic units, see below. This has provided some much-needed experienced personnel but it means that the regular units are understrength.
Horse Regiments: Åhlheterén, Petersson, Viskin and Mäshitalo
Dragon Regiments: Hoblund and Matthjälm
Twilight of the Sun King rating: Horse: Trained, Cavalry, GH Dragoons: Trained, Cavalry, GH, small
The Infantry: The foot units are aggressive and the success of the initial push of the infantry will be important in achieving victory, about 1 in 6 carries pikes and most an axe or a saber to use in the charge. Jakgöta’s artillery is, when it can keep up with the King’s rash decisions, a well drilled unit. Colonel Jakgöta’s steady firing at the Battle of Duln was a key moment in the rapid breakdown of the advancing Markden Army.
Foot Regiments: Matlund, Rotdin, Teijler and Polmörth
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Foot: Trained, Infantry, GP Artillery: Trained, Field Artillery
Niascan Units (Horse and Foot): The province of Niasca has only been part of the Kingdom for a few years. The Kingdom gained control of the province in the last war and it has yet to fully reconcile itself to the province’s new circumstance. The province provides 2 Horse regiments and 3 Foot regiments to the army. These units are well trained, experienced units, using traditional tactics not the aggressive approach of the other elements of the army. However, their commitment to the army and their new commander is doubtful. The Crown Princess (who is the regent of the Province) Guard regiment has recently been renamed for the campaign and is only a Guard Regiment in name.
Horse Regiments: Freltin and Johan
Foot Regiments: Klarkling, Tomqvist and Crown Princess Noraeleo’s Guard
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Horse: Trained, Cavalry, Wavering Foot: Trained, Infantry, P, Wavering
Rerby’s Fanatics (Dragoon and Foot): Denswe is a deeply religious nation and with the prospects of a war against the unbelievers in Siarus the nation has become inspired. The teachings of the fundamentalist preacher Repet Rerby swept through the nation and lead to many new units being formed for the upcoming crusade against Siarusian heretics. Rerby argues that the scales that God uses to balance the powerful in the world are tipped in favour of Denswe. They are convinced that they are the measuring instrument that god will use to change the balance. With their rallying cry “Gods own Scale” these fanatics will surge forward against the Siarusian unbelievers.
The followers of Rerby have formed 5 Dragoon regiments and 1 Foot regiments for the crusade against the Siarusian. These volunteers are largely untrained but are fired up by their beliefs. As loyal Densweans they are committed to using the new tactics of the regular army. Unfortunately, shortages of ammunition mean the cavalry are limited to only firing when faced by cavalry. In other circumstances they will face to charge and rely on God’s help.
Dragoon: Melblom, Milomberg, Hodgvén, Benelin and Karström
Twilight of the Sun King ratings: Dragoons: Raw, Cavalry, GH, Determined Foot: Raw, Infantry, GP, Determined – may only fire on mounted units.
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):
I have done my first proper effort on the 2019 Joy of Six project – the Battle of Poltava 1709. As I have stated before it will be a full blown table showing not just the main battle, but also the besieged Poltava, the Monastery and of course the redoubts (more background at the end of a previous blog here).
I did a inventory of the Swedish miniatures needed and found (not to a great surprise to be honest) that I have everything I need apart from some Cossacks and the models required for the Poltava Siege works (I want to make the siege lines, siege guns and sappers, etc), as for the forces on the table, all I need is (excluding artillery and command bases):
41 cavalry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
18 infantry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
24 Vallack and Cossack bases (large light horse bases 60 by 60mm)
That is 83 No. of bases (and detailed below) in total compared to 100 No. of bases for the Horka battle.
I will do the same review for the Russians, but I already know that there will be substantially more work as the number of bases for Horka was 155 No. but I will need a total of 259 No. for Poltava.
140 cavalry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
89 infantry bases (60 by 30mm bases)
30 Cossack and Kalmyk bases (large light horse bases)
Now all these did not fight in the main battle, but it allows a little bit of a reflection as to the relative strength of the Russians vs the Swedes in terms of available resources in the area. It will be a busy table, considering that it is about 40% more models (however they will be somewhat differently spread).
In the interim I do know that I have no Russian Horse Grenadiers and I need 3 No. regiments of 4 bases worth of models, so I have been painting some of these.
In 1708, Peter the Great, formed some Horse Grenadiers regiments, taken from the Grenadier company of existing Dragoon regiments. It is a little bit confusing and unclear how these units were uniformed at the Poltava battle and how many were present, so what follows are an interpretation. In game terms we will treat these as a better quality dragoon units and I have modelled these on a basis of 4 bases per regiment. Note that these are from Baccus Seven Years War range (and not from the WSS or GNW range) – they are wonderful little models and you can find them here.
A. Kropotov’s Horse Grenadiers
I painted these in the most common uniform combination of the Russian Army at the time with Green jacket with red facings, this is a speculative uniform combination. The flag is green and I am thinking of making some transfers to add some detail to them (I bought some printable transfer paper).
G. Kropotov’s Horse Grenadiers
Again speculative uniform – I made them as above but with blue instead of Green, apart from the flag.
von der Roop’s Horse Grenadiers
Yet again speculative uniform – I made them blue coats with red facings and a blue and red Mitre.
I have given them an ink wash (nut brown of course, see below) and will base them up shortly.
/ Hope that was of some interest
List of the Swedish units required for Poltava 1709 based on a rough guide of one base of 9 models of riders per 200 to 300 cavalry (about 2 squadrons) and the same for base of 24 models of infantry per 400 to 600 infantry (a battalion).
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!).
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 too. 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 way.
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 4 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.
It has been some busy weeks since the last update on this mat business. Had time to go to a 50th birthday party, visit the Tower with the kids, Father’s day celebration, some relaxation by the river and starting a new Job. However I have done some progress on the 12 by 5 feet battlement, or the hairshirt as I call it, that I will march my soldiers on at the Joy of Six on the 15th July.
I managed to do the dry brushing for most of the mat, I use the normal three colours on top of the chocolate brown I have used for the last 10 years or so. It may not be the best combination but serves to tone down the cholate brown and the final light yellow is very effective. All my stuff, terrain, model bases, etc. fits together, it is done with the same colour and even the static grass (I use the two tones of green that Kalistra sells).
Here is my best advice for doing the dry brushing of the mat, use a small brush (not a paint brush) and take your time, change direction, small brush strokes. Dry brush to scale!
I prefer a little bit of patchy application of the grass areas as I want parts of the base mat to be seen, you may like it differently. This is a messy process as it is difficult to turn around the mat to shake the excess of with this big mat without causing major mayhem – with static fibres flying everywhere. When I did my 2 by 2 boards I used to shake them in a large plastic bag. Now I use a bagless vacuum cleaner (make sure it is empty before you start) but it is not a perfect process. I also detailed up the river and used some high gloss varnish on top. This is how it ended up (note the darker grass areas are to be filled with trees on the day) and I am very happy – apart from the real estate, bridges and trees it is all in the mat.
So apart from making some bridges (5 No.) I think we are ready to go and I can fit the roll in the car….
the trees are ready….
and so are the men…
Joy of Six 2018 we are ready for you, I hope to see you there (link here).