Monday, 23 October 2017

Thirty Years War - 2mm "Shattered" Bases



"When an entire Victory is obtain’d, he who hath lost the day should not lose his Courage too, 
but ought to gather up his Shipwreck, rally his disper’d and broken troops, get new recruits, dissemble his losses, encourage his party and draw to a head again; these are things 
practis’d by all intelligent Generals." 

Pallas Armata, Chapter XXII

One of the things I enjoy seeing on a wargames table are visual indicators of how well, or how badly, a battle is progressing for each side. I like to see formations fragmenting under pressure, and routing troops being pursued from the field. 

As it has taken a long time to prepare just a dozen or so battalions in 28mm for our games to be set in late seventeenth century Flanders, I’m not rushing to complete additional “shattered” formations for the wargames table in 28mm.

However, I like the idea of players being able to look over the table and, at a glance, see how their forces are performing. For our 2mm Thirty Years War set-up, I’m using coloured markers which can be placed on each of the brigade, Tercio, squadron and battalion bases to display the fighting condition of formations in the field. These range from no marker at all (Ordered), yellow (Shaken), orange (Disordered) and red (Shattered). 


But I wanted to go further, and make a small number of bases to specifically depict the formations with a "Shattered" status in the battle, allowing me to swap out the pristine based formations in a battle line with something more, well, shattered. There is some logic to this move, as well. In the rules we’ve been play-testing, units which are contacted by the enemy in a Shattered state are “Lost” – resulting in victory points for your opponent (abstracting the morale effect of losing standards, guidons, kettledrums, as well as the dismal sight of the “Shipwreck” of your cause as your troops flee the field). 

Having Shattered formations in your battle line therefore demands timely attention from any General, lest they be contacted by a variety of enemies including (variously) Croats, Finns or Tartars.


No manufacturer makes routing troops in 2mm, probably a fact which will come as no surprise to anyone. And there’s no ‘clumps’ of disordered troops which could fill the vacancy, either – although Irregular Miniatures does a very nice casting of a defensive pike hedgehog. So, inspired by a long-time distant article from Barry Hilton in Wargames Illustrated in the early 1990s (“Running Away Bases” – thank you Barry!), and encouraged by some conversations with my wargames chum Mark Backhouse about sculpting 2mm figure blocks, I tried my hand at making some “Shattered” bases.


Here’s the result. Each of the “Shattered” bases started life as a 1mm slab of plasticard, covered with green-stuff putty. Sculpting the figure blocks seems tricky at first, but you soon get the hang of it. I applied the green-stuff to the edges of the plasticard, and the top of the card, making a lattice grid to reflect the individual soldiers, and then fiddling with a sculpting tool to make the whole less regular. I added a few tiny wire pikes (at random chaotic angles), and some flags from the foil from a wine bottle (the wine having been enjoyed first, of course).




I undercoated the formations, and painted them all in fairly neutral browns, buffs, and greys so they could fit with either the Swedish/ Weimarian or Imperial sides. They look a little impressionistic in close-up, but from 3 or 4 feet away, on the table, they look distinctive enough to remember that they're not standard formations in the battle line.



The flags are, of course, slightly out of scale, but I think that’s acceptable for a 2mm brigade or battalion. You really want the flags to catch the eye of the troops in formation, and a making the flags a little over-scale therefore works well. A couple of the flags I draped on the ground – which I think catches the eye and perhaps suggests precious standards being abandoned in the field.

I should probably have ensured that the bases are not as regular. Almost certainly something to change next time.

I added some 1mm snow effect “flock” to the bases. The “flock” is almost dust like in consistency, but glued down on some PVA I think it adds something to the winter appearance of the bases and is in keeping with the rest of the winter terrain for the Lutzen game. 

  

You can probably see in the photos above that I’ve also done a few “Shattered” cavalry squadrons, although I’m less convinced they work as well, perhaps because of a lack of lame, wounded or fallen horses. Something for a future project, perhaps.


You can also see that the greenstuff sculpting can be used for filling out existing units. I tried bulking out some Eighty Years War Dutch militia battalions with the same approach of adding greenstuff figure ranks, for the Amsterdam and Utrecht militia for the 1620s and 1630s.



I also used some of the modelling putty to scratch build a coach for the Imperial Chancellery, which 
Gustavus' Swedes came close to capturing at one point in the campaign.  


I hope that’s of use to someone!  And, for those of you with fading eyesight (including me), there's something 28mm scale for next time.  Hope you can join me for that!


Saturday, 14 October 2017

The TooFatLardies Oddcast: number one


It seems strange to say that I've taken part in a podcast after I've made such a poor effort of keeping this Blog going during the year - but I have.

With Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner, I had fun in recording the first TooFatLardies Oddcast, an irregularly appearing podcast about wargaming. You can find the link to the first show here: Lard Oddcast One

During the course of the show, we each chose a book to talk about briefly: Rich went with Sir John Keegan's "The Face of Battle", Nick chose Dr Paddy Griffith's "Forward into Battle", and yours truly went with "The Commentaries of War" by Blaise de Monluc.

Books and wargaming go together perfectly, so I'm hoping listeners will enjoy this part of the podcast.




I've again picked some slightly less well known books going forward for future podcasts, mainly so we make sure we have a lot of variety.

I hope you enjoy the first podcast. We've a series of six planned, after which I guess we'll see if anyone wants more!

Happy listening!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Lard on the Volga - Birthday Bash 2017


It seems strange how something always seems to crop up on the evening my local wargames club meets. School plays, my daughter’s swimming training, my son's football games, a phone call with work – whatever the excuse, it’s going happen on a Tuesday evening when my local club meets.

For a long time we’ve talked about meeting on a weekend, and putting on a club game. 

I turned 50 a little earlier this summer, and this seemed like a good excuse to hire the club venue and stage a large game of “Chain of Command” last Saturday. My chums Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner have already posted a ton of photos from the game on their fine Lard Island News blog. So what follows is my recollection of our visit to Korbinskaya on the Don River.

For anyone thinking about staging a “birthday game”, I can honestly simply say – do it! It’s a great way to arrive at “that” milestone, as well as spending the time with a great selection of friends who just also happen to be wargamers.

Setting the Scene


One of the fun things about any wargame is setting the scene. Rich sent a few emails to me in the week before the game, detailing the setting on the river Don at the small town of Korbinskaya and it’s nearby Collective Pig Farm No. 452. A force organisation table later and I was in business, sewing minefields, working out defensive positions and finding old photos on the internet of what a collective farm would look like. A little goes a very long way when it comes to inspiration!

The table

We ended up with a large wargame. Indeed, 22 feet of wargame, from the Don to Collective Pig Farm No. 452. As you’ll see from the photographs, Rich and Al’s terrain was a joy to behold.







The fine Russian buildings from Warbases, Sarissa and Charlie Foxtrot looked splendid. My favourite was a wonderful Russian Church, complete with boarded up windows and Bolshevik and Soviet posters demonizing the Russian Orthodox Church.


Logistics

Never let a wargamer go hungry or thirsty. It’s an old saying (I’m sure), but nevertheless it’s an accurate one. I had arranged for lunch to be shipped in from our local bakery including a selection of decadent, bourgeoisie confectionary. Inevitably this was enjoyed by the Soviet players just as much as by the evil Nazi players.





I was honoured by my Lard chums increasing our collective daily sugar intake by creating two cakes, which were unveiled at the end of the day’s gaming. Despite initial misgivings, the indoor (Health and Safety Approved) sparkler worked far better than the Soviet pioneers’ satchel charges on the tabletop.

The game

As all games seem to do, it raced by. The Germans thrashed forward to the small, Tasrist-era bridge over the Lenmakluski stream, while I attempted to corral a slightly-recalcitrant defence using fiendish Commissar methods. The Soviet sailors from the Black Sea fleet arrived in the nick of time, just as most of the crews from the T-34s were bailing out under steady German fire.








As you can see from the photos, the troops provided by Rich, Al and Ade were of a wonderful standard. Thanks chaps!

The After-game entertainment



The best part of wargaming is the friends you share the hobby with. As might have already been mentioned by Rich, one can only hope that the band enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Painting Guide for 2mm Thirty Years War Figure Blocks



With some time to spare last night, I created a handout providing some information about how I go about basing and painting the Irregular Miniatures 2mm figure blocks we’ve been using for our Thirty Years War Lutzen project. Nothing very fancy, but a description of the order I’ve gone about things, some photos of work-in-progress and completed units, and a chart of the Vallejo paints I’ve been using.



Hopefully it’ll be of help to someone out there. You can find the painting guide on the web-version of this Blog, in the right hand sidebar called “Playtesting Scenarios…and Painting Guides”.  It should be right at the top.

If you think there’s anything I’ve missed, if anything’s not clear, please let me know in the comments or by email.

Two blog posts in two days. Just like buses, as they say….



 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A brief update ... Laarden and other projects


It's been a while…! To be honest, in my own defence, I didn't realise it's been quite as long as it has been since I last updated this Blog.  Sorry, everyone!

So what's been happening in Roundwood's World? I've not been idle. The "Laarden 1688" project is still very much ongoing, with painting and terrain making. So far this summer, I've been finishing the Spanish contingent to Laarden's polygot forces. By way of showing something, here's some of the flags I've been painting up, and one of the Spanish "commanders", in this case the Prince of Oviedo (a diminutive 25mm Spanish princeling, converted from a Copplestone hobbit).
 


And the 2mm Thirty Years War project is also very much "on foot". The Lützen armies are finished, and the aim before Christmas 2017 is to finish the Spanish forces for Nordlingen 1634 in their smaller, linear later Tercios.  I've been using my dodgy German to mine some useful information from some of the (very good) non-English books on Nordlingen. Hopefully a playtest for the battle isn't too far away.


I've also had a recent diversion to the Eighty Years War in 2mm, for reasons that might (hopefully) become a little more obvious during the course of the Autumn. As with the Thirty Years War project in 2mm, what has been interesting me is the possibilities of trying to recreate both the host of smaller battles and the campaigning environment in which the battles took place. 

In some ways, the Eighty Years War in the Netherlands looks to offer unpromising opportunities for the grand sweeping campaigns beloved of wargamers. There are few dramatic marches, the battles are tighter, and cavalry are less prominent. Of the Netherlands, the English soldier Roger Williams wrote in the 1570s, “those grounds did not serve for great troops of horsement to fight in”.

More trenchant still was the Englishman, William Davison, writing to Lord Burghley in March 1578:

Expungne one towne after another, the least of a number wherof cannot cost him less than half a yeres siege with an infinite charge, loss of men and hazard of his fortune and reputation bycause (as men of war are wont to say) one good towne well defended sufficeth to ruyn a mightie army”.



Sieges, field fortifications, river crossing and chess-board like march and counter-march seem to have been the predominant feature of Netherlands campaigning. But rather than abandoning the Flemish and Dutch landscape of the 1570s, 1580s and 1590s, I've been wondering if this might make quite a good location for a very tight, enclosed campaign.  So I made a start on some maps, which may or may not lead anywhere...


Standing on the shoulder of giants such as the wonderful Perfect Captain, I've made a few tentative steps towards thinking about campaigning in the periods of the Dutch Offensive, and Spanish Counter-Offensive in the Eighty Years War, being the 1590-1609 period. 

Being not that far removed from the Thirty Years War, I think there's some possible cross-overs of troop formations.  I'm hoping to create a Dutch army for the campaign, some of Irregular Miniatures' 2mm figures being perfect to represent Maurits of Nassau's and Willem Lodewijk's forces at battles such as Nieuport in 1600.  Hopefully as the summer passes, I can post some of the images from the tabletop of the Dutch and Spanish forces. As a taster, here's this week's Spanish early Tercios, on their way to being slowly painted.



So, plenty of stuff happening. Apologies again for the Blog silence, which is really as a result of a hectic family life and the usual work related excuses. No promises about when the next post will be, but hopefully not in five months! Catch you next time, and thanks for being patient …
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