Thursday 19 November 2015

A few little books...

As an aside, and apropos of not very much, I popped along to The Original Re-enactors Market (TORM) last Sunday... it's a sort of 17th century shopping convention. As the event is held not far away, a "drop in for a pint and a browse" approach seemed warranted.
Well, with nothing particular on my re-enactment list to buy (although, to be fair, that didn't stop me actually buying lots more stuff),  it took me only 7 minutes of aimless wandering before I had some reasonably-priced Ospreys in my paws.

As you will notice, I also picked up the old Airfix Guide to the ECW - a nice surprise as I had only thought about this publication the day before when it was mentioned in Wargames Soldiers & Strategy magazine, which I happened to pick up when passing WH Smiths. This particular Airfix Guide I had out on loan from our local library pretty well permanently for what seemed like the whole of the late 70s (I didn't get enough pocket money to save up and buy my own copy!), so it was like bumping into an old friend. Charming.

Talking of magazines, I have recently started to buy the wargames monthlies more often. Is it just me, or are they improving ..?
I've found a few items of interest in them of late, and particularly enjoyed seeing Stuart Asquith's piece in the latest WI. I also enjoyed Charles M Grant's piece on narrative campaigns, a few months back (can't remember which of the 3 main mags it was in).

To add to my reading pile, I'm half way through William Le Queux's "The Great War in England in 1897" on my kindle - a book that I have been meaning to read for some time and which came highly recommended.

It is a rollicking good read!
And, I'm heading back there right now...

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Full Orders of Battle

Since the Pils-Holstein Campaign project began, I have been running to an outline Order of Battle. You may remember I had all the Prussian and French infantry flags painted at the outset, with this orbat in mind.
Well, since then, it's grown arms and legs a little. Sheaves of paper could be found sticking out of my wargames notebook, with additional notes and changes to the lists. The inclusion of the Astrovian army, for example, is a recent development, which was merely on a scrap of paper, hastily penned whilst in an airport lounge waiting for a flight to be called (you know how it is)!!

 Above and below: gratuitous candy shots from recent tabletop outings...

So the other evening, I sat down to log the "definitive" orders of battle for the main nations involved - namely, Pils Holstein (and Allies), Prussia, France, and Astrovia.
Now, this is not to say the orbat won't be subject to minor amendments and adjustments over time, but at least it's something to work to. It helps me plan the casting of the figures, the painting schedule, and provides an idea of which games I will be able to tackle, and when. Of course, as specific scenarios demand, I may yet decide to add militia/ garrison troops, engineers, and other types, but the main battlefield units are there, for now.

I have uploaded these lists to separate pages here on the blog
... links to which you will find on the right...

You will note, I'm keeping track of those units I've completed, and those yet to be painted.

All of this got me thinking. Do other wargamers and collectors set out a planned order of battle like this to follow, or is it a case of simply picking whichever unit you fancy painting next?
There's no right or wrong way, of course, and I rather suspect most people will have settled (consciously or otherwise) somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but I would love to hear how others approach these things...

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The Storm Clouds Are Gathering

Professor Klickstich has, over the years, been a fairly regular visitor to the Palace of Altgard, the stately abode of King Ferdinand Adolphus of Pils Holstein. In recent weeks, his visits have become even more frequent. Why? Well (and don't let anyone know I told you this, for it's not to be repeated beyond these closed doors, so hushed tones please), Professor Klickstich runs the network of spies that operate throughout Europe, on behalf of both Pils-Holstein and The Electorate of Teutonburg-Fredonia.

Above: Professor Klickstich (black coat, front right), waits to be called for an audience with Ferdinand Adolphus.

And he has news to share with sweet FA...

He brings tidings from afar, and news of Tessa Pepisa's meeting with The Emperor Arnold of Astrovia.
It seems, The Emperor is going downhill fast. He sleeps long hours, but it's an uneasy sleep, without real rest, and the crown sits unsteadily upon his troubled, ailing shoulders. In his grief over the loss of his wife, Olivia, he has reflected on his life with sadness, and a sense of failing, not least in there being no successor to the throne. And, what's more, he has called upon Tessa Pepisa to share the one big secret he wishes he had shared many years ago... namely, that she is his illegitimate daughter. Her father was not really Alessandro Pepisa, at all. In fact, the Italian financier has been funded over many years in order to maintain the secret. But now, with no heirs to the Emperor's throne, it is time for Teresa Pepisa, Tessa, Tipsi Pipsi, to take on the role, for which she has not been prepared, for which no tutoring has been given. Emperor Arnold has expressed his wish that Tessa should, on his death, become Empress of Astrovia.

At this news, Ferdinand Adolphus, rises from his chair, takes three careful paces towards the small arched window overlooking the central courtyard of the palace, and sighs. Gathering himself, he returns to his seat, and faces the professor. "Are you absolutely sure, my friend?" The Professor's reply is unequivocal. He has no doubt about the source of this news. In fact, he confirms, the Emperor's Inner Council is sitting this very day, and will be appraised of the situation, before presenting Teresa Pepisa to the Astrovian crowds, within the next few days, as heiress apparent to the throne. Not only that, but Emperor Arnold has been told by his physician that his remaining time is not long for this world. In short, Tessa will be Empress within a matter of weeks.

Sweet FA considers the news...  Astrovia has been dormant, ineffectual, for many years. The military needs a good overhaul, that's for sure. So, is there any real threat? Well, time will tell. Perhaps Tessa will be the one to do the overhauling. One thing is for certain: it will be difficult to form any alliance with her. So that will have an impact on the diplomatic machinations of a turbulent Europe.

Back in the real world...
Below:The Astrovian infantry undercoated, on the workbench.

Regiment Kaizer (IR 1) is complete, bar the bases being painted, and flags attached. I used these as the template for the other regiments, and am fairly happy with the results.
This is my winter project. No pressure, just going to be working through the production line.
More updates on progress with these, as I do more...

Thanks for visiting.
And well done to Jim Purky who has followed the unfolding tale closely and pretty well guessed the Tipsi Pipsi storyline in his comments on the previous post. Bravo!!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

The Midnight Mutineers

The Taverns, Townhouses, Farms, and Wharfsides of Pils-Holstein are awash with rumour, gossip and tittle-tattle over the latest royal debacle.

Reports and papers from well-respected sources (and some less well-respected ones too!) are being gathered and pieced together to shed light on the mysterious fall out between sweet King Ferdinand Adolphus and his "belle" Tessa Pepisa, and her subsequent disappearance from the Palace of Altgard on that fateful night (see post of 29 September).

It seems that Tessa (aka Tipsi Pipsi) had over the previous weeks been receiving messages of some considerable urgency from the Astrovian capital (Astrovilla), from no less than Emperor Arnold himself. But why should she be receiving such urgent correspondence? She had had little to do with the Astrovian court for some years. What could possibly have changed?

Certainly the content of the letters had been very confidential indeed, and Tessa's refusal to let even Ferdinand Adolphus know the precise nature of the news contained therein had been the spark that led to their fall out.

His protestations has fallen upon deaf ears, and so Tessa had stormed out and made her way towards Astrovia earlier than she had intended, though it is certain that it was her intention to go to Astrovia anyway.

What was most surprising was that, as she flounced out of Altdorf Palace, the midnight mutiny was completed by her escort... the entire contingent of Pils-Holstein's light horse - The Transvladak Uhlans, and The Holstein Hussars (pictured below)....

The Holstein Hussars. If you are a long time visitor to this blog, you will have seen these before, I'm sure. Painted by me some time ago, these are John Ray sculpted riders on a variety of horses.

The now notorious midnight mutiny had these fine horsemen clattering through the narrow cobbled streets of Pilsner, below the Palace, and out into the night, disappearing at a steady canter towards the south east. Within a few hours, Tessa barely looked back as her steed carried her towards the snow capped mountains lining the borderlands. Now, for her, if what was written in the letters was true, she would need all her wits about her to carry out her true purpose.

Meanwhile, back in Altgard Palace, perched above the town of Pilsner, seat of the Kings of Pils-Holstein since the 9th century, poor Ferdinand Adolphus was trying to piece things together.
Here's what he could deduce...

Tessa was daughter of the wealthy Italian financier, Allesandro Pepisa, and his wife, Isabella. However, it now transpires that his wealth was largely derived from one source -The Astrovian Emperor himself!
Now why would the Astrovian Emperor give so much financial support to this man?
And why, right now, would the elderly Emperor Arnold, in his dotage, so soon after the death of his poor wife Olivia, suddenly want to see Tessa?
And what was in those letters that had made Tessa decide to give up her position next to him, Ferdinand Adolphus, in their kingdom together, and head for Astrovia instead?

Through the anger in his heart, "sweet FA" was starting to piece together a bigger picture.
And his sad thoughts at the loss of his loved one now turned to deep concern at the way he had treated her of late over this whole affair. For he knew that his former flame-haired beauty would be a challenging adversary, and he could ill-afford to incur the wrath of Astrovia.

Next time... all will be revealed, as Tipsi Pipsi arrives in Astrovia and takes counsel with the Emperor.

In the meantime, those of you with a nose for such intrigue might like to offer(in the comments box below) suggestions as to exactly what is behind Tipsi Pipsi's defection! Or you might want to keep your counsel, lest it be a potential "spoiler" for others (or more likely, a better idea than my plotline, in which case I'll have my finger hovering over the "delete comment" button anyway!!)

All of the above is a way of me saying, The Astrovian army is starting to build.

Cheers for now...