Monday, June 29, 2009

Concerning Rules

Like many wargamers I am a rules junky. Hardly a new set comes out but I look at it an ponder starting a new period, a new scale, or a new campaign. It doesn't matter that up until that moment I had no interest in gaming the War of Jenkins' Ear, nor indeed knew who Jenkins was, much less why a war should be fought over his ear. No, I must have the new rules. And when I begin a new miniatures project it is no different. None of the old rules will serve. I must go forth and quest for the One True Rule Set that will bring glory an perfection to my wargames table.

This brings us in a round about way to the early 18th Century and the GNW and WSS. Over the years I have come to realize a few things about my tastes in gaming.

First, I like simple fast play rules. With two small children and a wife I do not have 8 hours to devote to gaming out a simple skirmish. I ned rules that will allow me to set up, play, and take down inside of 4 hours. The rules also need to be fairly simple as long periods of time may elapse between games. Realizing after set up that you cannot remember how to play is not fun.

Second, I like rules that play well solitaire. I am primarilly a solo gamer so rules that rely on secret informaion do not work well.

Third, I like rules to capture the essential "feel" of the period. For me 18th Century warfare is characterized by long lines of troops, slow stately manuver, and an emphasis on morale over casualties.

For this period I want the look of massed linear formations. Wanting also to be able to hook some friends into the period I want figures that are large enough to see, but cheap enough to afford in bulk. This led to my choice of 15mm.

I would like rules that also reflect linear warfare, both in basing and play. Currently two sets of rules are looking very promising.

The first is the venerable Volley&Bayonet. Although these rules focus more on the later Horse&Musket period they should work well for this project. Tey are straightforward grand tactical rules, with 3 inch frontage by 1 1/2 inch depth standard bases.

The second set is Fields of Battle a streamlined version of Piquet. These feature card driven turn sequences which keep even solo games exciting and unpredictable.

I am not yet certain that I have it upon a basing scheme that will work for both rules sets and satisfy my asthetics. Part of the issue is the pike men in GNW units. Without the pike a simple double line of musketeers would be all that was required. The pike need to ba at least three figures wide, but no more than 1/3 of the total unit. This is a tall order in a unit of 16 figures, including command.

The First Recruit

This mornig I recieved my sample packs of Black Hat WSS miniatures from Mark at Scale Creep. They are every bit as nice in the metal as they appear on his website.

My impression is that they are "small" 15s and so will mix well with other "small" makes. The detail is well carved, with the exceptio of the muskets which seem a bit off. I have painted my first test figure up as a generc post-1720 musketeer. The dark green with red facings is less Christmas looking than I had feared.

One error for Russians of this period is that the cartridge box is placed on the figure's hip rather than the belly. Also worth noting, the figure is wearing gaiters and has three buttons on his coat sleaves. Yes, they are well sculpted and cast enough to see the butons.

I ordered the "Musketeer Marching" code, thee are also French Musketers although the only difference I can see o the website is the right hand possition.

I also ordered the infantry command and French infantry command packs. Again the most striking diferences are in pose rather than equipment.

Sadly at this time artillery and cavalry are not available. Pike men are not included nor are ensigns to carry the colours. The omission of the first I can undertsand as pike had mostly fallen out of use, but the lack of colur bearers is very striking.

I think this is a new range and it seems to have great potential.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hitting the Books

Today I got down to the nitty gritty of serious research. Well, actally it is more accurate to say that today my oder from OMM came in.

I got Pete Condray's Edition's Brokaw booklets on WSS and Swedish and Russian armies of the GNW, the Wargamers introduction to Marlborough and the Osprey on Poltava.

The EB booklets are serious Old School wargaming. Tiny print, line drawings, saddle stapled, and information dense. Orders of battle, uniforms, colours (flags) and more. Well worth the price of admission. One very nice feature of the Wargame's Introduction is the formation diagrams. These are done top down showing arrangement of miniatures on bases. Very nice for seeing how the armies were actually organized, and could serve as the basis for gaming counters. (If I can obtain permision to do so, I may paint some and post them for others to use)

The Osprey is one of the nicer ones. It has some very nice illustrations and is writen in a very readable style. A pity that the vollumes on Peter the Great and Charles XII are out of print. Time for some used book searching.

After a brief skim it appears that even sticking close to histry I shall e able to have some variety in my figures. Swedes mostly in blue and yellow and Russians mostly in green, but plenty of units that diverged from this. Also Cossacks, Ottomans, and Bashi Bazooks (the last perhaps a bit anachronistic, but certainly characteristic of the locals).

Now if I can just find 15mm Russian Bombardier and Streltsi figures. I knw the latter had pretty much been disbanded, but as a ceremonial uard they would look the business. The Bombardiers wold just make an interesting addition to my artillery. Like all wargamers I have a fondnes for things that go "Boom!"

Sample figures have been ordered, I hope to have the first few painted early in the next week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recruiting Officer Needed

Now I turn my attention to recruiting some soldiers for this project.

It has been suggested that I use 20mm plastics, and there are some lovely figures for the Great Northern War out, but there is a lack of Ottomans. As the Turks are a fairly important player in this game I am not sure plastics will work.

The next option is 15mm metals. I know I can get anything I need in this scale, even though I may have to pick through the Renaissance and Napoleonic ranges for Ottomans. 15mm is my prefered scale for gaming and painting.

6mm is an option with Baccus 6mm doing lovely WSS and GNW ranges. But again no Ottomans in sight.

10mm is a scale I am not overly fond of. I am not sure why, but I have never really taken to it. If Otomans, GNW Russians and Swedes and some WSS troops are available, I might be persuaded to give it a try.

28mm and up are really too large for my available table space and I prefer panting the smaller figures anyway.

Cost of figures is probably a wash, I did some calculations a while ago and fond that I spend abou the same figure cost no matter which scale I'm gaming in. I just buy more of the little guys.

Any thoughts on scale or recomendations of figure lines are most welcome. Especially pictures of the OG15 lines as I cannot seem to find any. I have found OG15mm Ancients to b too finely detailed to respond well to my painting style.

I paint in not quite a clasic toy soldier style, but definitely prefer a good block base coat and minimal shading and highlighting. As such I like smothly sculpted figures such as Minifigs or Musket Miniature which I use for AWI. Curiously I have found myself enjoying my Peter Pig Sudan figures and they are on the smaller and finer detailed side of things from my usual.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here is a drawing of the national plant, the humble cucumber. It is eaten with every meal, prepared in countless ways.

To say the least I have become heartily sick of them.

Welcome to my new posting...

Oobleckistan, August 17**

My Dear ---,

No one ever warned me life in his Majesty's Diplomatic Service would be dull. They never warned me of the dangers inherent in cucumber brandy either. Sadly I have become all too familar with the hazards presented by this libation for it is muchly esteemed by the locals.

I find my self posted to this remote backwater for reasons well beyond my fathom. The akim, or so the local lord is termed, greated me warmly enough and saw to it that I was given suitable quarters. Since that time I have little enough to do beyond swimming in the sea, working on developing a knowledge of three languages, Russian, Turkish, and the local tongue, and cultivating a taste for cucumbers and melons.

The climate is warm and the people friendly. If I can find a cook who knows how to prepare a dish that does not contain cucumbers I think I should have quite a pleasant and quiet stay.

As for the curiousnameof this place, I am toldon good authority that it is actually in the way of a nickname that has passed into so general a use that the truenameof the country has been quite forgotten. This name as well as the peculiar custom of greeting others with the phrase "I'm sorry" seem to both come down froma peculiar meteorilogical occurence some generations past, the particular nature of which no one seems disposed to relate.

Yrs w Rspct,