Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Pils Holstein Project

Continuing my overview of the Warcabinet collection, and plans for the various projects...

In many ways, the Pils Holstein project, set in the mid 18C, is the centre-piece of the collection.

It occupies far more shelf space than any other project, and I have a significant pile of lead awaiting the paintbrush over the coming years.

Although, I haven't done much on it of late, I do have plans to expand it significantly. I even have a number of flags painted by Mark Allen which will be awarded to the units I have in my intended orbat as they are completed.

The figures are my own, not commercially available, and give the collection some uniqueness. The mix of imaginary and real countries adds to the flavour too, I feel.

I will go into the expansion plans in a future post, but meantime here are a few pics, taken in Aug 2017 at Partizan, which is the last time the collection was shown in full...









Talking of Partizan, hope to see a few folk at Newark this coming weekend...


Sunday, 15 May 2022

What is 'Finished'?

Thanks to those who've been commenting on my past couple of posts about the various projects I am working on - The Grand Warcabinet "Tractor Plan".

Just thought I would follow up on the subject of the TYW and look at what I want to do to get this project "finished".



For the Swedes:

I do have some cavalry conversions that Brian Rigelsford made for me so want to paint those. I could do with a couple more regiments of Swedish cavalry in total.

I also have a rather nice Rigelsford command vignette of Gustavus Adolphus that will look great at the head of the army.

And one more unit of infantry for this army would be good too... possibly a Scots unit in Swedish service.

For the Imperialists:

A couple more cuirassier regiments would give more 'heft' to the army, and maybe another large infantry tercio.

The artillery for both sides needs some attention, and I have most of the figures I need to do this.

There are loads of special vignettes that Brian made that are lovely groupings of figures. These really add to the flavour of the display and will bring it to life.

All told, it probably amounts to around 300-350 'painting points' to do.

Then it will be "Finished"... I think!!!

At the moment, my plan is to tackle this over the two years once the 1704 Wars of the Vaubarian Succession project is complete.

Of course, every wargamer knows that "finished" is a will o' the wisp...


Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The TYW - a Display Project

The Thirty Years War collection hasn't featured much on this blog for the past few years, but many readers may remember The Breitenfeld Blog which was devoted purely to the project.

The Thirty Years War is one of those periods that many wargamers seem to love, but very few actually 'do'. I may be mistaken in that (and I am sure there are many devotees of the war who are absorbed in the recreation of it on the tabletop), but it is my overall impression that it is not much played.

Anyway, here are a few taster photos of my own set up.




I should perhaps explain what I mean by "Display Project".

The rationale behind this collection right from the outset was that although it could be wargamed with, the emphasis was on the aesthetic. I wanted big units, lots of big flags, and lots of vignettes that added nothing to the gaming, but told the story and contributed to the narrative I was portraying.

It is interesting that most wargame shows include games that are described as "Demo Games" and "Participation Games" (in the UK at least). I believe there is a third category... The Display Wargame. Not so much a game, but a display of modelling, painting, and all the aspects of the hobby we know and love. Some might turn their noses up at such things, exclaiming that these are more like static dioramas. But, I believe they played an important part in the evolution of the modern hobby, and continue to do so. After all, it was such Display tables that adorned the pages of the magazines under Duncan Mac's stewardship in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and which inspired so many. 

A "Demonstration Game" may have high aesthetics too, but it is primarily a demonstration of a full wargame, being played out as such.

A display collection is not a diorama, as it includes wargames units, based and organised as such. It looks like a snapshot of a wargame in progress... and it may even be played as such. But its "raison d'etre" is to display the art of a wargame... the figures, painting, modelling, terrain to produce a visual feast, first and foremost.

Anyway, given that this Thirty Years War project is primarily for Display, and given that it has only had one outing at a show (Falkirk), possibly 10 years ago, I think it's time it came to the fore again. My plan is to put it on at a show sometime over the next couple of years.


Sunday, 8 May 2022

Sunday Morning Blog Housekeeping and Updating

"It's about time" I hear you shout! 

Yes, I have been meaning to tidy up some of the project pages for a while, especially those projects which have stalled, been sold off, and are no longer part of the grand plan. "Grand plan?" Yep... believe it or not, there is one!

This morning, listening to Sibelius 2nd symphony (an old favourite), I decided to get cracking, and you will notice the pages related to my wargames projects (links on the right) have been rearranged.

So, the Colonials, Back of Beyond, and Napoleonics photos have been moved into the Archive Gallery and since those projects have been moth-balled the individual pages have been removed.

This means the blog is now a better reflection of the projects that are ongoing - mainly:

The Pils Holstein campaign (mid 18C)

Wars of Vaubarian Succession (c1704)

Thirty Years War

Rise of Macedon and Successors Wars

Thanks to those who have commented on recent posts, and to those who regularly pop by for a look at the blog.
Following a telephone chat with John Ray yesterday evening, I'm inspired to tell a little more of what I am up to. So over the coming weeks I will outline some of the plans I have for the next steps in these particular parts of the collection, and in general post a few more updates.

All the best for now.


Sunday, 24 April 2022

The Action at Taubental

As promised, here is a brief update and a few snaps from yesterday's game.

Andy Moran came over for his first taste of Horse and Musket gaming, and I think he might be hooked!

We did have a great game, Andy taking command of the Astrovian forces (with Pils Holstein allies) whilst I handled the Vaubarians!

Here is a reminder of the map layout:



The forces were as follows:

Astrovians (deployed on near edge of table to left of river)

Commander Reichsgraffen General von Schwarzenatter

Astrovian Infantry Bde commanded by Brigadier von Jung - Regts Frankl; Schrodinger; Wittgenstein

Pils-Holstein Infantry Bde commanded by Brigadier von Wagner - PH Leibgarde; Wolfsheim; Braunschweig

Irregular light infantry: The Karavani Croats

Cavalry - commanded by Brigadier von Trapp - Klammer Kuirassiers; Czardas Hussars

1 Field Gun


Vaubarians (deployed on top edge of table to right of river)

Commander Markgraff Karl von Orff

1st Infantry Bde commanded by Brigadier Schweinsteiger - Leibgarde; Dremel; Breitner

2nd Infantry Bde commanded by Brigadier Maier - Electoral Grenadiers; Ratzinga

Dismounted Dragoons - Muller (begin game in the farm)

Cavalry - commanded by Brigadier von Hoeness - Vogts Cuirassiers, Podolski Hussars

1 Field Gun

I decided to have a very slight difference in the make up of the forces to create some tactical problems. The Vaubarians fielded only 5 infantry battalions, against the combined 6 battalions of Astrovians and Pils-Holstein. This was slightly offset by one of the Vaubarian battalions being Grenadiers and thus classed as elite. In terms of light troops, the Vaubarians were also better quality - the dismounted dragoons being trained regulars, and the Karavani Croats being raw irregulars.

In both cases, the hussars began the game off table and their arrival (time and position) would be diced for from turn 3... in the end, both arrived in a similar position, the Podolski Hussars on the northern table edge just above the farm, the Czardas Hussars a couple of turns later in the gap between the woods and the farm.














The game swung to and fro and a gentlemanly draw was finally declared at the end of 12 turns, with both sides severely battered and neither in a position to force the issue and seize all key features of the field. So both would withdraw under cover of darkness, to fight another day.

The casualty returns were as follows:

Astrovians lost 69 infantry and 6 cavalry.

Vaubarians lost 39 infantry and 12 cavalry.

This includes figures routed/ retired and from the table.

On paper, it looks like a Vaubarian victory, but the position certainly to a degree favoured the Astrovians at the end, although they had yet to cross the river at any point.
Andy grasped my embryonic rules rather well, and got to grips with the tactics of the era very quickly, so that's a very positive outcome... and augurs well for future games.


Thursday, 21 April 2022

Time for a bit of Action!

It's time for a game.

The terrain is set out on the table for an outing for the forces of Vaubaria and Astrovia in the 1704 campaign, The Wars of the Vaubarian Succession.

Here is the sketch map for the game which will be played this coming weekend. 


Table is 6x5.

North is to the left hand table edge.

The Vaubarians will arrive on table from the east (upper table edge), deploying on the south side of the river.

The Astrovians (who will have an allied Pils Holstein contingent to bolster their ranks) will arrive from the west (near table edge), deploying north of the river.

A brief battle report will follow ...


Friday, 15 April 2022

Finding Inspiration

First of all, Happy Easter weekend... I hope you've got plenty planned, and perhaps a little hobby time too!

Tomorrow (Saturday 16th April) is the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, of course, and a date etched into my memory as this battle has held considerable fascination for me for many years... since I saw the Peter Watkins BBC documentary/drama back in the 1970s. I'm delighted this exists in its full form on youtube, and I may even watch it all this weekend at some point.

Further inspiration for the '45 came when I discovered Prebble's book and devoured its historical narrative with eagerness.


Some years later, I managed to get a role as an extra in the film Chasing the Deer (since renamed, "Culloden, 1746" I believe). It was an interesting experience, although I'm not sure being at the back of a redcoat column marching out of Fort George, hardly visible to the naked eye, counts as a screen debut!


The highlight for me (apart from the impromptu snowball fight between redcoats and highlanders on on the way off Moy Moor after filming one day) was meeting "Fish", the former Marillion front man. I'd been a  bit of a fan back in the day. He had a leading role in the film and by chance he and I were 'in wardrobe' at the same time as I was getting fitted for a plaid for one of the days as 'government militia'. He was complaining of a hangover from the night before... I was in awe. He really was as big in real life as he appeared on stage.

But I digress...

I guess the message is that I have always had more than a passing interest in Culloden (and when I lived in Scotland, visited the battlefield several times), but it's not a period I have ever 'wargamed'. I did have a dozen master figures of charging Jacobite highlanders sculpted many years ago with the intention of producing a range for my personal use... I never did anything with them. 

Don't worry, I'm not about to go there...

The point is, just because we are not wargaming a period, we can still find inspiration from it... the sound of battle, the tactics, the flags and drums. You get the idea.

And, if we choose to look for it, inspiration is in abundance...

Talking of inspiration in tricornes, albeit a different theatre of war, pop over to John Ray's blog (A Military Gentleman) and have a look at his pictures of the Dillon regt for the AWI. It was always a favourite of mine in John's collection. Inspiration in abundance.

Similarly, our friend Tidders (Kingdom of Wittenberg) has just produced a lovely PDF of his recent campaign which is a great read. Allan's collections all have a certain style to them which he consistently sticks to and which really works. The campaign is a delight. The PDF is interesting in that it also covers how he set up the campaign, the sequence of battles etc. Really good stuff.


And finally, on the subject of inspiration, it was sad to discover a few weeks ago the passing of our friend Ian Smith who has delighted show-goers with his 40mm display games for many years. Here are a few snaps I took of his game at Salute in 2016.




Ian and I didn't know each other well until around that time, but since then we had been in touch, and had many a good natter at shows... and not always about wargaming, but business, football, golf, and all sorts of other things too. 

In many ways, Ian was a 40mm man amongst 28s; he was a big character, and his games were ambitious and hugely inspirational... a feast for the eyes.
My thoughts, of course, have been with Diane and Ian's family this past few weeks, and with the likes of Shaun Bryant, Tony Runkee, and Mark Allen who knew Ian so well and contributed to his games, along with Dave Marshall who made much of Ian's terrain.

Thanks for the inspiration, Ian Smith. RIP.

The ranks are thinning, and every time Partizan comes round, we seem to be a man or more down. But the inspiration lives on...

It's what we do.


Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Lifting Morale

Last weekend I decided to just lay out the WVS (Wars of the Vaubarian Succession, 1704) armies - not to have a game, but just to enjoy the spectacle as a bit of a morale booster.

There is a tendency to think that in order to have a "proper" horse and musket game one needs to amass huge armies. But that's really not the case. A very fine spectacle can be created from just a few battalions per side, and many interesting and tactically challenging games can ensue.

The whole point of this collection from the outset was to produce something modest, for a small-ish table (this table is just 6x5, but I plan to expand to 8x6), with a couple of balanced armies to fight "teaser-style" games.

In this case, the Astrovians are defending with just 4 infantry battalions (and supporting light troops, cavalry and guns) against a combined Vaubarian-Pils Holstein attacking force of 8 battalions, plus horse, light troops and guns.

So, by many standards a very modest affair, particularly as the units are also relatively small (20 figures for infantry battalions).

The photos are not great quality, so apologies for that. But at least you get the idea.

No prizes for spotting which of Charles Grant's teaser games this is based on...







Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Painting a few 'bits n bobs'

Sometimes, our hobby is great for just 'pottering around' painting a few bits n bobs. You know, the sorts of things that you pick up at shows and then leave lying around until you 'get round to them' at some point - a point that often never comes!

I decided that I needed some more vignettes, some casualties, some fencing, and so on.

I also decided that it would be good to have a few more bits of 'place on' terrain items to represent scrub or rough ground... not huge tracts of wasteland, but the sort of little pieces that make our miniature landscapes a little more interesting than just plain flat grass. When out walking, I often pick up pieces of interesting looking twigs or stones that can be useful for such items.

I had built up a stock of all these things and set about the task...

So... here's a few recently created bits n bobs, made in between painting 'proper' units.






Nothing too fancy, nothing too difficult. But, all useful little items.

For the less verbose, the above post could have just read "Here's a few bits n bobs I've created"... So apologies for that! 

Cheers