Following on from some discussions I have followed on twitter recently (@Roll_a_One) I wanted to write a short note about two things about wargame shows that triggered a little bit of deeper thought than I normally allow myself. Also helped by the fact that I have spent more time than I ever wanted on delayed trains this week and have had no chance to do anything practical hobby wise, here we go.
1. The Show walkthrough
2. Demo vs. Participation Games
The Show Walkthrough
I had the following amusing situation (well at least in my view) at Salute a few years back (it was when Nick Dorrell and I demonstrated the Fraustadt 1706 game):
“Do you mind if I take a picture of the table?”, a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera asks politely.
“Not at all!, are you familiar with the Battle of Fraustadt or the Great Northern War?”, me leaning in and hoping for some kind of interaction.
“Not at all!”, the man says taking a few shots form above and then moving away from me trying to zoom in on one of the Saxon infantry bases and his camera takes some time to autofocus (the lighting being unforgivable in the Salute hall).
“The models are from Baccus and they are mostly from their Great Northern War range, they are 6mm. Those Saxons are from their War of Spanish Succession range as the Saxons wore similar uniforms to the Western Europeans”, me moving closer and leaning even deeper.
“Couldn’t paint anything so small”, moving onto the Swedish side and taking another quick succession of shots and then a close-up of some of the cavalry bases, with the same issues with the autofocus.
“This is the decisive Battle of the Saxon campaign of the Great Northern War and as a direct consequence Charles XII managed to obtain a peace treaty with Augustus II the Strong of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin was Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. after 6 years of war”, me getting very excited and with sweeping arm movements I am set up to transfer this essential knowledge of history to the man with the camera.
“Sorry not really interested, I am just taking pictures for my blog. Do you mind moving a little bit so I can take a picture showing the name of the Battle”, he interrupted me, I moved surprising swiftly out of his firing arc, he took his snap and then proceeded to the next table repeating the procedure.
I put my waving hands behind my back and carried on! I reflected on the fact that he would never know that the marshland on the Saxon/Russian left flank was moss from my garden baked in the oven then soaked with pva glue, that the hedges around the field were made from green scourers, that the reason the line was not straight were due to a miscalculation on the available space between the two villages by the Saxon Commander, that the Saxons/Russian had been standing in their position for ages and were freezing their balls off, that the reason I painted the Russians in Red Coats was that they had turned their coats inside out to look like Saxons, etc.
I was interrupted in my thoughts as another a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera came towards the table. I got my lean-in position ready.
The incident above made me laugh and I reflected on these unsung heroes rushing around taking pictures of stuff not for themselves but to share with other people who may be interested but not able to attend themselves – it s a great service and sacrifice! So to the Man with the Camera – thanks for doing this and sorry for retelling the story in what may be confused with irony or some kind of bitterness.
I find myself invariably drawn into a wargames table (yes we are drifting back towards that kind of thing again) and I am keen to understand what is going on and very often how things have been done and how it works – I am kind of into this hobby you see. It is not always obvious and I like it when a table either gives a nice history/story lesson and/or gives a great game – I love it when it does both. I also like nice terrain and clever solutions mainly with regards to decluttering the table of makers and instead using inventive markers that blend in with the table – it helps the immersion.
It is a lot of hard work and research behind most of the games that are presented at shows and my best advice when going to a show is to stop and talk to people and learn more. If you are shy just stand next to someone who seems to be part of the group until they are free and I bet someone will start talking to you. Grab a handout and ask, they did not just come to show of their game as a flashy post card in an album of many – let them give you its soul and perhaps you will fall in love with it to. Perhaps you could share this experience to the world with a little write-up and maybe a picture or two trying to convey what you felt about the game as a whole – not just what it looked like. I think we need a few more Walkthrough Reflectionists too – the slow walkthrough. Beauty, it is said, is only a paint layer deep!.
Are Demonstration Games the Opposite to Participation Games?
Some groups putting on games seem to treat shows as an outing and any passers-by as a distraction. They face inwards and normally seem to have entrenched themselves with everything they need for the day within reach – they are there to play their game with themselves. Luckily, I think these ones are in decline.
When Nick (Dorrell) and I do our Great Northern War battle we do them as demonstration games, but you can participate for as long as you like. Perhaps to try out some of the mechanisms of the game, we never expect to play the game to its conclusion – although, as a notable exception, we managed to finish Klissow 1702 a few years back at Joy of Six. The game is there as a discussion point in our case about the Battle itself, the rules we are using, the origins of miniatures and terrain, how we painted it and built it, etc. We have roles – I talk about the terrain and the miniatures (having painted and built it), Nick does the rules questions (having developed the latest set of the Twilight of the Sun King rules), we both talk about the Great Northern War (both being passionate about it). Anyone else helping gets a role depending on what they know, normally they will keep the game going.
Some time ago I heard, or perhaps read, Richard Clarke (one of the Too Fat Lardies) saying that he does not run dumbed down versions of the rules at shows to make it easy – he runs his rules as they come. I think it is important to reflect on this in how you want to present your game. I have had a lot of fun playing some game specific rules in 30 minutes at many shows, but we cannot run the Battle of Fraustadt in 30 minutes with the rules we are using – Sorry! Therefore we need to engage in a different view.
They key with a show game, in my opinion, is that it is should be there to engage with others should they want to. Have handouts to give out or to refer to, bring some books about the period (it always looks impressive) or props. We want people to get a feel for whether this kind of game, period, miniatures used, etc is something for them. Scaring people away will not showcase your particular niche of the hobby and to be honest it is at your own detriment.
Demonstration games should not be the opposite to participation games – you actually have to work as hard, or perhaps harder, interacting with the visitors. What the hell are you demonstrating? It is your flippin’ job on the show mate!, you may not get paid but you are taking up space.
Let me know what you think!
By the way, you have a chance to see whether this engagement talk is just bullshit at Joy of Six next week as Nick and I are putting on a table. You are free to ignore us, come by and take a photo and just go, or to stay around and ask a few questions if there is something of interest, or even stay and roll some dice for a while. We are happy to engage with you at any level you want.
We will be putting on a 9 by 12 table with 250 bases of the finest Russia and Sweden had to offer in 1708! – Horka 1708.
Check it up here. And here some background on the table we are putting on, but there are 22 other games ranging from ancients to sci-fi and pretty much anything in-between.
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).
In the last posting (here) I set out what this blog posting would be about:
Blogpost 98, w.c 02-Apr-18. Some completed stuff for Horka 1708, this will be pictures of the completed Russian Infantry – the 64 bases required. I just need to complete the basing and add flags to the final ones in the next few days.
For once I seem to have managed to live up to at least my own expectations. I spent the first day of the Easter Break finalising the basing and then added some flags the following day – boring at hell at times but I figured it would be worth the effort. Here are some pictures (there is a listing the completed unit at the end of this posting). All models are from Baccus (link here).
I am doing the final cavalry elements and hope to be able to inspect them on the parade ground shortly before I get onto to finalising the Swedes.
In other news I have ordered some stuff over the last few weeks for my Mutant 1984 project (1980s roleplaying in a world that most certainly was), I would like to give a little shout out for the miniatures from Space Vixens from Mars. They regularly show up at shows and do their games and invite anyone along for a hilarious ride. Here are a few of the models that I will be using for my Mutant 1984 project (taken from their webpage – link here).
I wanted to have a rock band with mutated Beetles but had to go with Plan B, the Mutated Beetles. They are famous throughout the Pyri Commonwealth and I will try to find a Walrus head and do a headswap!
Here is their typical set list (length of the show tends to be dependent on the capacity of the steam powered electrical generator of the local venue).
Here comes the Burning Sun, For the Benefit of Mr. Rijn, Baby You Can Ride my Horse, Mutant on the Hill, Got to Get you into my brain, Happiness if a smoking blunderbuss, I am the Mutated Walrus, I want to hold your four hands, Mental Mystery Tour, Mean Mr. Ketchup, Roll Over Justin Beaver, September in the Acid Rain, Three cool mutated cats, Two of Me and finally (and I suppose you also grew tired of the list!) You’ve Got to Hide Your Mental Powers Away.
Anyway, hope that was of some interest. We have also been playing some games over the Easter Break but those will be presented in some future blogs as per the plan presented last in the last blog.
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Horka 1708 – Notes on Russians and the Field of Battle
I presented the Swedish army I would need for the Horka 1708 battle two weeks ago and gave a little background to this what-if battle (it may help if you have not read the previous entry if you start here). For the Swedes we basically assume it is the same army that set out from Grodno in the beginning of 1708 that will fight at Horka – yes in all fairness the body of men should perhaps be reduced to allow for the attrition effect of an army on the march (illness, skirmish casualties, desertions, etc.). For the Russians at Horka, Nick provides information in his book (The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell, link here) on the likely composition for the infantry based on available sources (a few assumptions have been made based on this detail to produce the army list, also note that this may change as we move forward, but I want to have a list to work from in completing the miniatures – I will also need all of them for the upcoming Poltava battle so doing them will not be a waste). For the Russian cavalry we assume a similar composition to that of the Battle of Holowczyn.
The full list of units for the Russians I will be working on are presented at the end of this post.
Below is the illustration from Nick’s book, showing the Russian position at Horka, this will be used as a basis for making the table.
The next sequence of pictures show at high level how I derived the map (Call it Horka 1.0).
Still finalising batches of painting so not much to see here, hurry along… and moving swiftly over to something else.
GNW Books and Scenarios
Over the years I have met many people in the UK who are interested in the Great Northern War but struggle to find decent books on the subject in English (apart from the usual suspects like Peter Englunds fantastic book on Poltava, the Massie book on Peter the Great, or the Osprey Poltava book) – this is a shame and I wish more books were available. At the SELWG show last week I had a few discussions along these lines with a few old and new friends. For example, I think Oskar Sjöström’s book on the Battle of Fraustadt 1706 (link to it here) is an amazing book and ought to be available in English. It won the best Swedish history book of 2008 and is an absolute gem – it inspired me enough to paint thousands of 6mm soldiers with winter bases for my first Joy of Six outing many years ago whilst listening to Sabaton’s Carolus Rex album.
“At Fraustadt the Swedish forces faced An army almost twice its size. And on that day we showed the world not only Our superiority in battle but also How cruel man can be. Frozen ground, Ride with the wind Emerge from the gunsmoke like demons Rehnskiöld’s men Charging their flanks The enemy trembles with fear”
From the Song Killing Ground by Sabaton, from the Carolus Rex Album (2012)
The recent two-part Great Northern War Compendium was a very welcome addition, not just for the English reader but for anyone interested in this period, and is a fantastic set. I think you can still get copies of it from Caliver books – it is expensive and I doubt it will go down in price once the print-run has sold out.
I found a review on Amazon that I think encapsulate my own feeling about the set.
“This set is hands down one of the most lusciously detailed, illustrated, written, translated, and produced works of military history I have had the pleasure of reading in a long, long time. And that is not hyperbole. From the quality of the original research and translations, to the breadth of coverage, to the details of the individual battles and topics, to the huge number of gorgeous maps that accompany almost every article, this set is simply stupendous. Let me mention that last part again. So many works of modern military history neglect the critical aspect of cartography. With a topic as obscure as the Great Northern War maps are critical. Not only are the maps a huge part of this work, they are literally works of art. They are easy to understand, numerous, clear, and beautiful. I can not say enough good things about this fantastic resource. Even if the GNW is not your period of main interest, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in your purchase. I would have bought this set at twice the price, and I mean that nor do I have any connection whatsoever with the publishers.”
From Jason C. Pipes review of the Great Norhtern War Compendium taken from Amazon.com 15/10/17
“So why the excitement”, I hear you thinking, “…we know about your Fraustadt Battle already and the Compendium was released more than a Year ago!”. Ok, sorry, here we go.
I noted recently that there is a book coming, preliminary in May 2018, that sounds really interesting and I pre-ordered a copy. The book is called The Swedish Army of the Great Northern War, 1700-1721 and written by Lars Ericson Wolke. Lars is Professor at the Swedish Military Academy in Stockholm and have written widely on Swedish and international military history and I have read many of his previous books with great pleasure.
Here is the blur about the book (taken from Amazon):
The book describes the development of the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War, 1700-1721, when Sweden fought against a coalition of Russia, Denmark-Norway and Poland-Saxony. For parts of the War also Prussia and Hannover joined the enemy coalition. The book describes how the Army was reorganised in the year before the outbreak of the war, with its unique allotment system of recruitment. The book also includes a list of all Army units during the 21 years of war.
The strategic situation in the Baltic Sea region in the last 1690´s is given, and is then followed up by an analysis of the strategic situation in the early 1720´s.
A description of the Army as it was at the time of the outbreak of the war in 1700, as well as the system of fortresses around the Baltic Sea is provided. The equipment and tactics of the Army are presented, not the least how they developed during the long period of the war.
The development of the 21 years of war are described and discussed to give the reader a good overview of the military (and partly the political) development. The battlefield Performance of the Swedish Army is in depth studied through descriptions and analysis of six battles and one campaign.
The book includes a list of suggestions for further reading, and is supported by a large number of illustrations including specially-commissioned colour uniform plates.
Wow! I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon here. This is part of the same series as the other book (I am wating for!) I discussed in an earlier blog entry about the Russian Army of the period, link here.
In addition, and from the same publisher, there is another Great Northern War book being completed. This one is called “The Battle of Poltava 1709” by Valerii Alekseevich Moltusov. I am happy this work will be available in English, as I suspect this may be a translation of a book he wrote in 2010 about the Battle (but I may be wrong), that was translated into Swedish. The book was brilliant.
And the blur from the publishers page:
Based on Swedish, Russian and Ukrainian source, this book presents a modern look at the pivotal battle of the Great Northern War. The uniqueness of the book is that it reveals the consistency and logic of the Russian army’s actions. The book also provides a detailed historiography of the Battle of Poltava. The author reveals the secrets of military engineering art Russian and Swedish armies. For the first time, new evidence for the location and configuration of the fortification system on the battlefield is given, as well as new information on the actions of Russian artillery in battle is given. In addition, there is much information on the strength and composition of Russian troops аt different stages of the battle, as well as an examination of the participation in the battle of irregular military formations on both sides. The author’s conclusions complement our understanding of the battle. Highly illustrated including specially-commissioned colour artwork and maps, this is a major new account of one of the 18th century’s most important battles.
Here are three other books relevant to the Great Northern War in English for you to check out, all of them are covering a longer period of history. They all give insight into the rise and decline of Sweden as a major power in the region and puts the build up to the war and its aftermath into context. I recommend all of them (the first one is normally available second hand from Amazon at a very low cost).
The Struggle for Supremacy in the Baltic 1600-1725, by Jill Lisk (link here)
A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower, by Henrik O. Lunde (link here)
The Northern Wars 1558-1721, by Robert I. Frost (link here)
In addition Nick (Dorrell) gave me a copy of his Second Scenario Book for the Twilight of the Sun King (TotSK) rules at Joy of Six in July. It took me until recently to have a read through. It is called the Ottoman & Great Northern Wars and contains the following scenarios:
The Wars against the Ottoman Empire (1683 to 1718) – with links to Wikipedia added:
I only went through the Great Northern War scenarios. None of the tables required to play these (with a base width of 60mm, two of these bases makes a normal unit in the rules) are bigger than the normal 6′ by 4′. For each Battle there are options and in some cases what-if proposals, e.g. a field action at Narva where the Russians march out on the fields in front of Narva, instead of staying in their fortified positions, and take on the Swedes. Overall I think the mix of scenarios works well and the only one I felt was missing is the Fraustadt 1706 battle – but then I remembered it is the example battle in the main TotSK rules.
Narva and Holowczyn are attacks by the Swedes on a strong position. Klissow, Gadebush andStorkyro are more traditional battles of the era. Both the Lesnaya and the Crossing of the Düna scenario are interesting in that the objectives, from a Swedish perspective, are not necessary to win the battle outright but to establish and defend a bridgehead in the case of Düna and to limit the destruction of the marching army in the Lesnaya scenario.
We have presented both the Lesnaya and the Gadebusch battle using the rules and the scenarios at Joy of Six in the past. My favourite one is the Crossing of the Düna where a Swedish assault force supported by artillery tries to secure a bridge head whilst a pontoon bridge is being completed at the same time as a full army of Saxons are advancing. I have played versions of this battle using the Polemos as well as Maurice rules in the past and may give it a go with the TotSK rules in a not to distant future. I have promised myself this time to do it with a proper gun boat, artillery float and a pontoon bridge. I find that the additional rules in some of the scenarios for weather effect (snow storm for the Narva scenario) and rolling for enforcements in the Crossing scenario adds a nice uncertainty to the game. The Holowczynwhat-if scenario is very similar to the Horka idea.
More about the rules and the scenario books here. I also wrote a few lines about the rules in a previous blog (see here).
The 10mm Gunboat I bought last week at SELWG (see more here) is slowly going to take the role of a gun sloop at Düna – supporting the Swedish crossing.
I also got a nice surprise in that a friend of mine Michael Leck is doing a Great Northern War battle at Salute this year using the Pikeman’s Lament rules (that he and Dan Mersey wrote and I and the Little One have enjoyed played on many occassions, for example see here and here). You may recall his fantastic Fort Mosquito set-up from Salute last year or known him from some of the other stuff he has done over the years.
Michael Leck is, perhaps, more famous for the fantastic stuff he presents on his Dalauppror blog (here) and his articles in the Wargames, Soldier and Strategy magazine where he has presented snippets from the rich Swedish military history and how to adapt some popular rule set to play in these, more than often, unknown theatres. You may recall that I put up a picture of his fantastic, and award winning, game at Salute in the last blog update (here). Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago.
From some blogs ago
He will be doing the Battle of Stäket which is the last land battle of the Great Northern war. He provided a sneak preview of the table being made recently.
But we baked you some Biscuits!
If you have not yet listened to the “The Lardy Oddcast” that you can find on the Too Fat Lardies webpage then go and do so – it is very interesting! (link here). They have produced some of the exceptionally good and innovative rules over the years (like IABSM, Sharp Practice and Chain of Command to mention a few) this give a nice insight to what is going on the Lard Island as well as in the head of the islanders – well worth a listen!
It is another welcome thing to do whilst painting or whatever else you do with your hands when you listen to a podcast. I am still yet to get going with my Chain of Command 15mm Winter War stuff – but I seem to be running out of excuses. I still have to do some of the terrain but should get cracking with a game at some point (here is were I got up to last year, link here and here). I have done a few games of Chain of Command but would really like to get a few more under my tight belt!
As you are aware, I am a fan of the Wargames Veteran podcast (link to it here) and the latest episode was another good one, especially as Jay had invited Peter Berry along for a chat. Peter, if you were not aware, is the owner of Baccus 6mm (link here) – I may have featured a few of his miniatures on this blog! (also the podcast before this one is a good one with Henry Hyde and his upcoming Campaign book, and the one before that one… and the one before that one,….).
You will find out how Baccus came about, and also why it is not spelt Bacchus, but more importantly Peter and Jay discuss the current trends in the wargames publishing market – mainly focusing on 28mm and skirmish type games. I think it is a fair observation and it is worth listening to what Peter actually is trying to say. This stems from an opinion piece Peter published on the Baccus home page recently. The underlying message is that there is something we hobbyists could do in helping and that is to submit articles to the editors of the magazines, whatever scale or type of wargaming we are into.
Jay, as always managed to nutshell the moment, with the following statement, “If we want this hobby to continue, then we gonna have to be open and willing to share , and willing to help and maybe not be so negative towards the neo-fights!”
And with reference to Neo-fights!, the Brits and Americans are yet again debating the greatness of something without having done a full sample of the market. Everyone knows that the best biscuits are from Gothenburg and are call Ballerina, and you definitely dunk these, in whatever liquid you have at hand. 😉
He also interviewed Howard Whitehouse about Mad Dogs With Guns (link here). This is a new gangster game from Osprey Games that I have made myself a post-it note to check out.
A few other things I took away from the Berry Interview were the word Scanian War range and re-sculpting the Great Northern War range!
Finally the Little One has expressed some interest in some Star Wars miniature gaming – we already have a large collection of the ships from the X-wing game – so this next venture will be into some skirmish gaming. Imperial Assault has been out for some time and soon Star Wars Legions will be out. A majority of the Fab Four at the Meeples and Miniatures podcast discusses Imperial Assault in their latest show and I am very tempted to give it a go, but resisting as I do not have time for another diversion at this moment – like the Dreadball one, having painted 6 teams over a very short period of time. Legion or Assault?- it is still open for us and not an immediate issue to resolve. Listen to the Meeples podcast here. I am a long time sufferer of the show and can proudly call myself a Meep, check it out and become one you too.
/ Have a good week-end I am certainly on a high this week, that was a long rant! But at least an early posting for a change.
Russian Army List
Here is that Russian army list, I promised earlier.
Unit – Name of the Regiment/unit
Type – Infantry or Cavalry
Ref – Reference
Polemos Bases – 60 by 30mm base with 9 riders or 24 foot – 2 of these are a normal unit in Twilight of the Sun King rules. 1 is a small unit and 3 a large unit. The X indicate how many are needed.
Class – RD – Russian Dragoon, RI – Russian Infantry with Pike.
As you may be aware the next Great Northern War installment of the Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT) is the Battle of Horka in 1708. The battle did not happen but was inspired from reading Nick’s book on the Russian campaign and with the addition of some artistic, or should that be historic, freedom I think we have something good enough to work on and present at the next Joy of Six in 2018. As always I will try to write a fair few installments here on the blog as things progresses (you can follow us here or like us on Facebook if you want to keep up with the developments or just come back every now and then). Anyway let us do a little bit of an intro so we are all on the same page (as per normal I have included links to previous posting and some external sources that may be useful if you are interested).
The Battle of Horka
Having ousted the Danes out of the Great Northern War (see more here) by the invasion of Zealand and crushed the Russians with the decisive victory at Narva, the young Swedish Monarch, King Charles XII (Carolus Rex, Karl XII) had decided to turn his efforts to deal with the final member of the coalition that had challenged Sweden’s Baltic supremacy – Saxony / Poland. It took him another 6 years before he had secured a treaty with Augustus the Strong. However the King still had unfinished business with the Russians and the time had come to march towards Moscow …. (you can read more about the TMT project and some of the background here)
In the beginning of July 1708, shortly after his victory at Holowczyn (see more here), the King had reached the Dnieper river with the Crown Army at Mogilev. It was, he believed, the last major physical obstacle on the road towards Moscow. The Russians had not made the advance easy as they had applied an scorched earth policy (the same policy that both Napoleon and Hitler would come to know later in history) destroying or removing supplies, burning bridges, withdrawing from villages, harassment of the moving army by irregular Cossack and Kalmuck light horse and dragoons, in combination with the constant rain (it had rained for about 4 weeks almost every day) that destroyed the crops and the hay and also affected the roads that further slowed down the March. The Russians would not give the King the decisive battle he needed. An army does indeed not only march on roads in knee deep mud but also on its stomach and there were still another 300 miles to Moscow – but as we know hope was on the way.
“So once the Swedes had secured the area around Mogilev they stopped to wait for Lewenhaupt and his vital supplies to arrive. … Meanwhile the Russian army had also halted and encamped, as the next obvious destination of the Swedes was the city of Smolensk, the Russians occupied a strong position on the road from Mogilev to this city. The camp was at Horka, sometime called Gorki, a short distance east along the road to Smolensk. … The Swedes considered attacking the position but in the end did not. Had the done so it seem likely that the Russians would have stood and fought.”
from The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell
We know the King would have liked to get on with it.
“Charles XII wanted to march on and put further pressure on the Russians after their disappointing defeat at Holowczyn – the sooner the better – before they had a chance to recover.”
Translated from Katastrofen vid Poltava (The Catastrophe at Poltava) by Peter From
So in our scenario the King gave the order to break up the camp and “Gå-På” towards the Russian position at Horka and the Russians did not slip away.
I will detail more about the assumptions on the armies that will clash on the day of battle in later postings. In the background I have been working away on the Russians and they are in various stages of completion. I had Chris from the excellent Marching in Colour helping me with a large part of the Lesnaya Russians last year and I also sneaked in a few ones for this project in the Order – so I had a good head start on these, but there are still a lot of work to do.
For the Swedes I had enough painted lead already from various project to cover about 45% of the bases needed – so there is a little bit more work to do on this front as well. Took out the miniatures from the Storage and took a few pictures whilst doing the inventory.
Here is the current list of units required for the Swedish side, this is based on the 35,000 strong army as at Grodno in 1707.
Unit – Name of the Regiment/unit
Type – Infantry or Cavalry
Ref – Reference
Polemos Bases – 60 by 30mm base with 9 riders or 24 foot (60 by 60mm bases with 7 for the light cavalry) – 2 of these are a normal unit in Twilight of the Sun King rules. 1 is a small unit and 3 a large unit. The X/Y indicates how many I have already and how many I need to do.
Class – GH/GD – Galloping Horse/Dragoon (Swedes with Aggressive cavalry), GP – Swedish Infantry with Pike.
It seems like ages ago that we went to Sheffield for the Joy of Six 2017 and I have had my head down into work and some neglected duties like 1800mm terrain modelling (gardening) and real life painting (some feature walls instead of shield walls) with a limited amount of any useful hobby time. However, there is always some progress on some front in the Roll a One world (but more on that next week).
This is my take on the fantastic spectacle that is the Joy of Six – it is very biased as I frankly spent most of the day around the two tables I had brought. I had a few round trips but failed to take more than a few pictures of the other offerings – mainly because I ended up having a chat and then feeling bad that I had left the tables and rushed back. However, this was a little bit of an unnecessary mitigation as the games were running pretty well without my interference. The Wyre Foresters running the Lesnaya Table and the Little One the Lechnaga bash. So as far as a proper show report goes it is a limited one. For a better overview check out the report on Baccus page (link here and here).
A tale of two tables
It was a nice and sunny day in Sheffield and we woke up early as we actually managed to get to bed relatively early. The mat for the Lesnaya Battle was rolled out and it was so refreshing compared to the usual 2 by 2 feet boards I have been using in the past – that invariably have warped a little bit and/or the underlying tables being uneven leading to some interesting and unintended elevations.
I had some fears about the varnish and the rivers but it all seemed to work very well – I think I have convinced myself that I will do mats from now (more on this adventure here).
When we had put on all the trees, the houses, the wagons and the starting units I took a step back and I have to admit we were pleased. “It is GEFAG!”, the Little One said – Good Enough For A Game!
The Wyre Forrester, under the guidance of Nick Dorrell, got on with the job. Most of the time was spent talking about the table, the war, the mat and the Twilight of the SunKing Rules that was used on the day (the basing I use is the Polemos “standard” but this works equally well for the TotSK rules – one base is a small unit, two bases a normal unit and three bases a large unit).
At the latter part of the day the game started moving in earnest but did not reach a climax before we packed up.
Here are a few pictures from the action.
For the Lechnaga battle (see background here and here) we used one of the mats I did for the Saga stuff last year and the canopy forests (see more here on this terrain). The actual gaming area was the middle half of the 3 by 4 foot mat.
We decided to run the game (using Dragon Rampant Rules) with a war band/force sheet for each player and did a bespoke measuring stick based (we used centimeters instead of inches) on the units in the war band. We also did cards that to use to agree the order in which a player had a go – this created another layer of friction to the game. All, of course, colour coordinated! I have provided the files if you are interested in doing something similar.
I bought some cheap 20cm rulers for 50 pence each and printed out the file (download files here in PDF and Powerpoint – Dragon Rampant Rulers and Dragon Rampant Rulers) on some sticker paper (normal paper and glue may do as well!) and put them on the rulers where appropriate.
A then the file with the factions used on the day here Factions and here Factions .
We had a few good games – the Little One was in charge. Here are some pictures – a big thank you to the few who dared to sit down and roll a few dice with the kids. The future of the gaming community and industry salutes you! The Little One would like to give a special thanks to Oliver and Chris!
It was a very good day, but it always seems to end too quickly, here are a few of the things that I managed to capture.
Of particular interest to me was the Battle of Issus using Command and Colours (or is it Colors!) by the Wyre Forest gang. This really got me inspired to do something similar for the Punic Wars (but I save this discussion to another time – when I have not clue what to write about!). There is a picture of it on the Baccus link above.
Yet again a very good event indeed. Thanks to Baccus, Wargames Emporium and all the other people that makes it all happen. I have to extend the thank you to my two Little Ones – one doing her second year in the Yellow Joy of Six Jersey, selling entrance and raffle tickets, and the other for running one of the games. Also a big thanks to Nick and the other merry men from the Wyre Forest!
Finally and big thank you to all of you who came around and said hello and told me you were reading this blog and liked it. I really appreciate it and all you others who seem to come by every now and then!
We will back next year!, did I say thank you?
/ Have a good week!
Postscript (15/10/17): I have had a few queries on the sources of the trees I used for this project, I got these from various sources on eBay. Here are a few screenshots done on the date indicated above of what I used. None of these are based (apart form the Orbicular ones have a little of a root section) and I did it by using washers with a bit of Milliput and make a hole in, let it dry, glue on some sand and paint it up, flock it and stick in the tree with some glue. Some boring hours of work but I do think it is well worth it.
The fir trees were from Busch and I think I got 3 or 4 packs of these – shop around as I recall I got mine somewhat cheaper.
We had a very nice weekend up in Sheffield with the Better One and the Little Ones going to the Joy of Six show – now back to work and a hectic week ahead. Will write about any potential thoughts in due course, over the weekend. In summary we had a great time and even had time to sneak into Conisbrough Castle just outside Doncaster. I had wanted to go there for some time as it is the setting for the classical novel Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott.
Ivanhoe has a special place in modern Swedish tradition as the 1982 movie (with Anthony Andrews, Olivia Hussey, Lysette Anthony and Sam Neill) has been shown every New Years day since 1988.
We did set up the tables and had a fantastic time – the mats worked well!
/ A proper reflection this weekend, all the very best