Sunday, December 10, 2017

Winter Wargaming

Frederick and his staff at Leuthen. (click on all pictures to enlarge)

We received our first dusting of winter snow overnight here in Hesse Seewald and thoughts naturally turn to the Christmas season and all of the fellowship and good cheer that it brings. 

The first battalion of the Itzenplitz (IR13) marching through the Winter snow.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland, a view of my street today.
I went crazy on the outdoor lights this year and probably put up twice what I normally do. I would finish a section of the front yard, step back across the street to view my work, and then decide that I needed just a few more lights on the right side of the house.

A view of the outdoor lights at Schloss Seewald

Needless to say, the outside of Schloss Seewald is looking very festive. We are going to purchase our Christmas tree this afternoon and decorate it today. Somehow, it doesn't seem like the holiday season until the tree goes up.

Winter Wargames
I am fortunate to have purchased some Winter terrain mats from The Terrain Guy five or six years ago, before the gentleman closed down his business. The mats are made of canvas with some kind of flock (I'm guessing) adhered to the canvas. Some bits of brown and grey coloring were added to the mats to create a realistic Winter look. Herb Gundt scratch built the snow clad buildings, the roads and frozen streams, and the leafless Winter trees in keeping with the Winter theme. Yes, I actually have buildings and terrain specifically for snow battles and conventional terrain for the non-winter season.

Over the years, I have used these mats to fight battles such as Trenton, Mollwitz and Leuthen along with several fictional battles from my Hesse Seewald collection of figures.

On the Road to Leuthen

Another view of the Itzenplitz regiment on the march. Winter roads, trees and buildings for snowscapes were  made by H.G. Walls major domo, Herb Gundt. The figures shown in the pictures are Minden Miniatures.

I have refought Leuthen a number of times over the years. At least two of them were fought using our 60-figure big battalions for the Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime rules. More recent versions of Leuthen were fought with my Minden Austrian and Prussian armies using a more manageable 30 figure battalions.

The pictures posted in this thread are from a large solo Leuthen game that I played in early 2017, if I recall correctly.

The iconic Leuthen church, manned by the heroic Rot Wurzburg regiment.

Linear warfare at its best - the Austrians form their battle line to stop the Prussian assault.

The Prussian Guards finish off the Reichsarmee troops.

Battle of Trenton

I fought the Battle of Trenton on, appropriately, Christmas Day in 2015. History repeated itself as Washington's army prevailed over the poor Hessians. The figures used in the battle were from my Fife & Drum Miniatures line of AWI figures.

View of Trenton on Christmas Day 1776.

Frozen streams, snow on the ground and bare Winter trees make for a bone-chilling scene.

The Chew House from Germantown doing double duty in Trenton.

The Battle of Mollwitz

This iconic battle was Frederick the Great's first battle (and sort of his first victory). Frederick wasn't so great that day as he allowed Marshal Schwerin to wisk him off the field to safety. He only found out the following day that Schwerin had won a convincing victory over the Austrians.

For wargamers, the Battle of Mollwitz evokes thoughts of the book "The War Game" by Charles Grant Sr.

Long ordered lines of Prussians advance on the Austrian army at Mollwitz. There is a reason for calling this the Age of Linear Warfare.

Austrian counter-attack aims to outflank the Prussian left wing.

The Prussian center is gaining the upper hand in front of Mollwitz.

The Army of Hesse Seewald

In December 2016, my nephew Alex and I played a game over the Christmas holiday, as my Hesse Seewald army "saw the elephant" for its initial battle. The green clad Hesse Seewalders prevailed, just barely, over the white clad Saxon army.

The Saxon camp on a quiet Winter's morning.

But things quickly heat up as Hesse Seewals dragoons (in green on the right)
launch a surprise attack and are met by Saxon dragoons.

the largely green clad Hesse Seewald army advances towards the Saxon camp.

The Saxons fall back from their camp, save for one lonely regiment
that is trying to buy some time for the rest of the army.

The Liebgarde of the Hesse Seewald army are the exception to the rule of wearing green uniforms.

Close combat ensues with the Hesse Seewalders gaining the upper hand in the fire fight.

Winter warfare is a fun change of pace style of tabletop warfare. I am fortunate to have been able to collect some beautiful terrain pieces over the years and refight some of the famous historical battles fought in the 18th Century - the Age of Linear Warfare.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Zorndorf 1758 - Terrain Decisions

King Frederick and his staff discuss lunch plans before the battle of Zorndorf.
Click all pictures to enlarge.

Another staff meeting of sorts. Some things never change over time.

With the 260th anniversary of the battle of Zorndorf approaching in 2018, I have started considering how to recreate the battle on the tabletop at conventions next year. And with some progress being made on the Minden Russian musketeers and grenadiers, I will hopefully have a lot of new figures to paint and display (show off) in the game.

Map of the battlefield at Zorndorf - historical marker.

Another view of the historical marker at Zorndorf. Signs for battlefields are so few in Europe
that they really stand out and catch your eye when you do see one.

So I set up my first stab at creating the terrain for Zorndorf so that I could get a better sense of how much table space I have relative to the number of troops that will be in the game. The layout tips me off about potential spacing problems with the troops or terrain features. The first picture below illustrates the main terrain features at Zornforf.

Annotated view of the Zorndorf battlefield.
Last evening I found some 3/4-inch pink insualtion sheets in my storage area and I cut up some of the pieces so that I could slide them underneath the game mat that I use for all of my games. This creates a nice gentle elevation change that you can hopefully see in the pictures below. Eventually, I will place insulation sheet under the whole table and make cut outs for the various "grunds" and depressions on the battlefield.

The view of the Zabern Grund from the Russian right flank point of view looking back
towards the Prussian advance guard commanded by Manteuffel.
I used the Clash of Arms boardgame map for Zorndorf to create my own map on paper and then scale it down to a 12 foot long game table. I can easily extend the table another four feet and add the cavalry action on the Prussian right wing near the Langern Grund terrain feature.

I used the Osprey Campaign book on Zorndorf for my order of battle. To scale things down, I basically substituted a brigade of actual soldiers for one wargame regiment. More about this in a future blog thread.

Compare the picture of the tabletop Zabern Grund with the picture of the actual terrain feature on the battlefield today. This picture, below, was taken in October 2016 while I was on Christopher Duffy's tour of Frederician battlefields in Germany and Poland.

A view of the Zabern Grund today. You can see how deep the low ground is on the left, relative to the plowed field. With all of the battlefield smoke during the fight, it is easy to see how von Seydlitz could have hidden his Prussian cavalry and approached the Russian right wing virtually undetected.

Prussian 12-pound artillery battery with its left flank resting on the Zabern Grund.
You can see the Stein Busch in the background.

This picture provides a little sense of the slight elevation difference
 from the bottom of the Zabern Grund to the top of its embankment.

The Galgen Grund separates the Russian right wing into two sections.

What is left of the Stein Busch in the Prussian center.
In 1758 the wooded area would have covered considerably more ground.

The Prussian right wing (refused wing) commanded by Dohna.

I will post more threads about the development of my Zorndorf game in the coming days and weeks and months. I just wanted to get the ball rolling while things were still fresh in my mind.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Leuthen 260th Anniversary Today

The Battle of Leuthen - December 5, 1757

December 5th marks the 260th anniversary of Frederick the Great's masterpiece victory over the Austrians at the batle of Leuthen -- December 5, 1757.

Aficionados of the era will recall that after an early success at the battle of Prague in May 1757, Prussian fortunes reached a nadir after a string of defeats at Kolin, Moys and Breslau. The Austrians had even captured the Silesian capital of Breslau and victory in the SYW seemed to be within their grasp.

Then in a span of thirty days, Frederick pulled his chestnuts from the fire beginning with a stomping of the French and Reichs Armee at Rossbach on November 5, 1757 followed up by Frederick's forced march back to Silesia where he defeated the Austrians at Leuthen on December 5, 1757. By the end of the 1757 year, Frederick was once again the master of his realms in Silesia and Saxony and his enemies were in a severe state of disarry.

I try to play a Leuthen game every year, but did not have the time to stage the game on its anniversary date due to many life events and a busy season filling miniatures orders for Fife & Drum and Minden Miniatures. So I will post a few pictures of my Leuthen game from last year for your viewing pleasure.

Zieten leads the advanced guard into battle on the Austrian left.

Opening attack formation on the Austrian left wing.

The Prussian Brummers move forward to the Juden-Berg

The Prussian Guards finish off the Wurttembers holding out in Sagschutz

Austrian infantry redeploys from a south facing to an east facing to meet the Prussian attack.

However, the Austrian battle line begins to bend as the Prussian attack en echelon hits the Austrian right flank with continuous attacks.

Austrian reserves defend the town of Leuthen

The stalwart Rot Wurzburg regiment defends the Leuthen churchyard

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Speed Painting Blitz

30 British Sepoys are ready for action. Indus Miniatures figures.

So here I was last Thursday evening, having a game to play on Saturday at Chez Protz and feeling like I was short quite a few British Sepoys on my game roster. I had 60 Indus Miniatures British Sepoys divided into two battalions of 30 figures. A 60-figure unit would  be ideal for one of our BAR rules games, but 45 would do in a pinch.

So what could I do? I knew that I had a small pile of unpainted Indus Miniatures SYW in India figures on hand, so I decided "what the heck, let's try to paint them all in one day!"

Tomorrow's game would be a scenario based in SYW India with the British versus the French and their respective allies. You can read the back story to the game  on Bill Protz's blog:

There are some basic rules to successful speed painting: mainly, not putting too much detail on the figures and try not to shade/highlight the figures; and no eyes or buttons. Keep it simple and the finished figures will fly off of your brush.

Accordingly, on Thursday evening, I cleaned and glued 30 Sepoys to 3/4-inch fender washers and took them out into the garage to spray them with grey primer. It was about 2AM when I completed the primering, so technically I was already into friday at that point.

I went to bed and was woken upat 8AM by the sound of chainsaws going to work in my own front yard. It seems that the local homeowners' association had plans to trim all of the  trees in our subdivision and they were going at it in my front yard. Needless to say, that was the end of my night's sleep (an afternoon nap around 4PM would be essential today). 

So I pitched into painting the first batch of 15 figures around 8:30 to 9AM. My plan was to paint one batch of 15 with blue facings and the other batch of 15 figures with yellow facings. This would allow me to increase my two existing Sepoy battalions from 30 to 45 figures.

By 10AM most of the basic colors were blocked in on the figure: red coat, dark skin, blue lapels, black crossbelts (usually buff in color, but to save time they were going to be painted black), and grey turban. Things looked like they were going fairly fast at this point. 

The next step was to paint equipment, hair, muskets black. This takes about 5-10 minutes per figure and becomes very tedious after the first five or so figures. Brown colors look better over a black undercoat as do things like cross belts and haversacks.

At any rate, the first batch of blue facing Sepoys were completed by Noon, so it took a little less than four hours to paint the first 15 figures. The absence of much equipment on the Indus Sepoys helped to cut down the painting time.

The first 15 figures of the Painting Blitz are done.

Then I took a two hour break from painting to recharge my batteries and stretch my legs by walking our dog. The dog thinks that the walks are for his benefit, but little does he realize that they are really for my benefit.

The next batch of 15 figures started at 2PM and I did another two hour session to 4PM, and then retreated to my den/library for my afternoon nap. What with watching the evening national news broadcast and fixing dinner with Mrs. Fritz ( we have been making Blue Apron style dinners from kits lately which gives us a good chance to do something together. Little did I know that I could actually cook a great tasting meal.

I even did the pots and pans so as to earn som brownie points with Mrs. Fritz. I would need them to finish the Sepoys.

At around 8PM I took my seat at the painting table and finished off the second batch of 15 Sepoys by 10PM - Bingo! I was finished with all 30 figures. I just paint the fender washer bases a dark green and go Old School by not bothering to terrain them. The figures are then placed on magnetic sabots/movement trays and I am done.

The second batch of 15 figures.

Mission accomplished with plenty of time to spare. I could even make it to bed for a good night's sleep so that I would be ready to get up bright and early for the drive to Chez Protz for our game: SYW in India.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Farewell Diet Lime Coke

Possibly the last can of Diet Lime Coke in existence in the United States.
It currently resides in my refrigerator.

It appears that the Coca Cola Company has discontinued its Diet Lime Coke product without making any announcement of the same. Diet Lime Coke happens to be one of my favorite beverages so I am quite upset about this development (tongue in cheek here).

If I had known that the discontinuation of the product was going to happen then at least I could have stocked up on a couple of cases of Diet Lime Coke, but NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

So the picture at the top of the page shows my last can of Diet Lime Coke. I am trying to decide whether I should save it until my birthday on December 18th, or drink it soon because Coke products have an expiration date on them and I've noticed that they tend to lose their flavor after said date.

One consolation is that I have figured out a way to replicate Diet Lime Coke by adding one capful of concentrated lime juice into a can of regular Diet Coke and then gently stirring the cocktail with a straw. I tried several different amounts of lime juice before hitting on the one capful formula.

So while it's not the best solution, it will have to do.

Fie on the Coca Cola Company.

Note that this blog post is a lame attempt to reach my goal of ten blog posts in the month of November. I now need ten more posts in December to reach my annual goal of 100 blog posts.

This weekend I am traveling to Chez Protz to play a SYW in India game, which should be different and fun, so I'm looking forward to that.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fife & Drum French, of sorts?

French in the 1776 Regulations uniform. Picture is from  John Mollo's "Uniforms of the American Revolution".

The other day I was looking at some of the Fife and Drum AWI Continentals and noticing the similarity of their tricorn hat with that of the AWI French. So just for grins I decided to paint several Continentals in French white to see how they might look.

Continentals painted as the French Saintonge Regiment

Side view - the French didn't wear tumplines or blanket rolls, but then, you never know what is worn on campaign.

A29, A27 and A25 from the Continental range.

These were fun to paint and it is amazing how much difference a little paint can make to a figure. I don't have plans to paint a Faux French army, but then again, maybe I will if I want to do a Seige of Savannah game in the future.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

South Carolina Campaign - Turn 10

The 1st Continental Dragoons escort a supply wagon heading for the American  depot at Charlotte in North Carolina.

With no battles on Turn 9, we quickly move on to Turn 10 where there will be a battle at Kingston, SC between Gates' (4SPs) beleagured army (currently out of supply) and Cornwallis' (6SPs) veteran army. It appears likely that Cornwallis will bag Gates and his army on Turn 10.

An important development is the pending arrival of 4SPs of British reinforcements from New York that are currently at sea with the Royal Navy.

Turn 10 Map Movements - click to enlarge the view

British Moves
* Cornwallis moves 6SPs to Kingston, where he encounters Gates (4SPs)
* Tarleton moves 3SPs from Camden to Winnsboro
* Rawdon holds Camden with 6SPs
* Stewart moves 4SPs from Charleston to Nelson's Ferry
* Charleston garrison - 2SPs
* Georgetown garrison - 3SPs
* Savannah garrison - 2SPs
* Fort Watson sends 2SPs to reoccupy Fort Mott, retaining 1 SP

In addition, the Royal Navy is bringing 4SPs of reinforcements from New York and it is currently off the Carolina coast and can disembark troops on Turn 11.

American Moves
* Gates holds at Kingston with 4SPs - battle with Cornwallis on this turn
* DeKalb holds at Fort Granby with 7SPs
* Sumter holds Ninety Six with 2SPs
* Williams holds Charlotte with 3SPs
* Marion retires from Nelson's Ferry back to Snow Island
* Pickens moves 3SPs to Dorchester

Analysis of Turn 10 Moves

Horatio Gates has finally been run down by Cornwallis at Kingston, SC. Barring some bad luck for the British, things look grim for the Americans. DeKalb's intelligence about the strength of the British garrison at Camden is spotty at best, so he holds his strong position at Fort Granby. He does not move to take Fort Motte given the proximity of Rawdon and a potential battle.

American partisan forces show Marion retiring back to the safety of Snow Island on the Pee Dee River, Sumter holding on to the valuable fort at Ninety Six (although Tarleton is in a position to move on Ninety Six), and Andrew Pickens has move south through Orangeburg and Dorchester. Pickens is one dot away from Charleston, but doesn not have the strength to capture the town.

Campaign Victory Points

As we approach the end of the campaign at the end of Turn 12, it is a good idea to keep a running tally on the victory points that each side has. The British hold a one point lead in victory points at this stage of the campaign. If Cornwallis can defeat and capture Gates and his army, that will give the British a big boost in victory points because each captured leader, each victory and enemy SPs captured all earn victory points.

British - 16 Victory Points

Americans - 15 Victory Points.