Monday, 29 April 2019

The Current ‘Project’

Actually this is not really a project as it doesn’t have a specific end objective, or timeline, but it does have a budget. Of sorts. The budget constraints are: (i) guilt about taking food from the mouths of my children*, and; (ii) the discipline of maintaining a limited, unpainted lead pile, which I keep to pretty well (ignoring the AWI and WWII Finns and Soviets).

* I stopped doing that when I found that toy soldier suppliers do not accept cold fish fingers as payment, no matter how much ketchup I put on them.

During the past couple of years I have got more and more interested in the English Civil War, almost to the exclusion of any activity on other periods. In my teens, having read the War Game and the Airfix Guide to the ECW, I had a hankering to ‘do’ the ECW. For some reason, however, I bought a few (Lamming?) 15mm light cavalry for the French Wars of Religion, but I never got further than that.  Finally, after 40 years (I’d be a World Class prevaricator if I ever got round to it) I took the plunge and copied some numbers from a piece of plastic and quoted them to Mr Leon at Pendraken and in return he sent me two starter armies.  So why 10mm?

(after penning this I realised the next couple of paragraphs go a bit ‘Tristram Shandy’, but in for a penny…).

In the late 80s I got into 6mm for reasons of space, and for reasons of grandeur. I wanted to be Frederick the Great, not Generalmajor Hülsen (Who? Precisely). I’d previously had a Prussian SYW army of Minifigs 25mm (chunky period) in the late 70s and early 80s. These were sold off in my mid-20s (I think they’d been sitting in a cabinet at a friend’s house from the time I went off to uni) and spent the proceeds on H&R and Irregular SYW. It was an unfashionable scale and a relatively un-trendy period, but at that scale I could afford to do both armies if I struggled to find anyone else who was interested. Eventually I wrote some home-brewed rules, cobbled together from lots of different sources (i.e., I shamelessly nicked ideas) as no single set achieved what I was looking for.

Fast forward to this millennium and a friend bought some Baccus Napoleonic figures and Polemos MDE/GDD rules. He generously bought me a painted British starter army as a present, and then I bought Spaniards and Portuguese and we roped my son into it and I bought him some Prussians.  We could between us cover the Peninsular War and the Hundred Days Campaign. All of this influenced my SYW gaming, leading to a mass rebasing, some touching up of the paintwork, some more recruits from H&R, and several re-writes of my home-brewed rules.

For ECW I was looking for figures with a bit more variation of pose than Baccus. I already had bought some Pendraken AWI from the start of an abortive project. Plus Pendrakens are ace. They still meet my space constraints and as ECW armies were relatively small, I could have decent sized units and respectable armies.

The additional benefit is that you don’t have to be a good painter. Painting has never been my strong point. I get a sense of achievement from it, especially on those occasions when I have done a good job, but it is still a secondary activity. I’d found with 6mils that I could do decent looking armies quite quickly (the Baccus painting guide was very helpful!). And 10mils are not that much bigger. At arms length on the tabletop they look fine.

I like my armies a bit ragged looking - influenced no doubt by a slew of articles and pics in MW and WI back in the 80s and 90s. This fits in well with the ECW’s lack of uniformity and the absence of clear cut differences for each side so I could mix and match. My original plan was to do two different command bases for each unit, one Royalist, and one Parliamentarian but I haven’t got beyond one for each unit and I have a somewhat cavalier attitude** to the flags they’re carrying so they do service willy nilly. Also, I’m too lazy/uncommitted to have attempted to do specific regiments. I admire those that do the research, but I decided ‘not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (enough)’.

** Dad joke intended. This dates back forty years, when the head of sixth form wrote in my school report that I have ‘a cavalier attitude to punctuality and dress’. So I am nothing if not consistent. What a perceptive chap Mr S was!

Another advantage of 10mils is that I can use some of the same terrain as I use for 6mm (and as I’d planned to do WWII Finnish campaigns and AWI - I’d made lots of trees. Lots and lots of trees!) There’s a rather good guide to making conifers out of pipe cleaners in the second part of the article here . The buildings for 17th century England are different of course from 20th century Karelia or 18th century central Europe, but some items I can get away with. And I decided to adopt the ‘One Scale Down Principle’ of M. le Comte de Foy of Prometheus in Aspic fame.

I plumped for foot units of 30-36 split between two shot and one pike bases each, plus a command stand in addition, so something like 1:20 troop scale. Currently I have got around 15 infantry units, plus some commanded shot and dismounted dragoons. I decided to base horse in threes, each representing a troop***, with a separate command stand for each regiment - regiments can be of variable numbers of troops but recent batches have tended to be 4 troops plus a command stand each. Foot bases (including dragoons, mounted or dismounted) are 40 x 30mm and horse bases are 30 x 30mm. This makes 1mm about a yard, so my extendable dining table can go up to 2400 yards by 900. Which means I can do Edgehill in 1/2 my normal scale.

*** I did this without a great deal of thought on game mechanics, but I like it.

As well as Pendraken, I have bought some Irregular Miniatures (mainly for greater variation in poses) and have a few Lancer Miniatures figures which a pal got as samples years ago. I can just about get away with the differences in size at this scale - but the Irregular horse look a bit emaciated next to Pendrakens and positively skeletal next to the Laughing Cavaliers of Lancer’s range. I’ll stick mostly with Pendraken in future. A while ago I calculated that I ‘needed’ a big boost in cavalry and I more than doubled the quantity I had. My order included cavalry from P’s League of Augsburg range - superb figures, but definitely bigger than the ECW range. A purist would probably say that the kit and accoutrements are a bit anachronistic, but they’re close enough for me. And the guys in hats look like proper ‘Cavaliers’ from Look and Learn magazines. There are some superb pistol wielding figures!  LoA period is also on my unfulfilled wishlist - I could easily dabble in the Monmouth Rebellion (a nice limited objective!).

Later on, I plan to say a bit more about the homemade rules and the thoughts behind them. If I can find any photos that do the models justice, I’ll upload them.

Until then, fare thee well and adieu!

Monday, 22 April 2019

Forlorn Hope

So another blog by a middle-aged wargamer.  What’s this one about? Well my current, main interests are the Seven Years War and the English Civil War, but my wargaming interests cover the black powder era more broadly and have extended to Ancients and WWII. These days I’m mostly a solo-gamer despite living in the biggest city in Western Europe.

I hope to share some of my thoughts and ideas on rules and the like. I may stray into non-wargaming topics from time-to-time.

Most of the ground I cover are table-top battles, but I've long had a hankering after siege games and campaigns.

I’ve never blogged before, and don’t do social media like FB and the Twitter, so I’ve no idea how this will go, whether it’ll be of interest to anyone but me, and whether I’ll quickly run out of steam. But I’ll give it a go. I’ve pondered and prevaricated for long enough.

Along the way if I can entertain, inform, and stimulate feedback, half as much the other wargaming blogs I enjoy, then I’ll be well chuffed.

So here goes. Time to saddle the horses, and light matches.