Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Battle of Luzzera; Italy 1702.

This battle was one of a number of battles between France and Imperial Austria to take control of Italy. The battle took place in Lombardy on the 15th of August. This battle was a tough one with heavy casualties on both sides. At the end of the day, the French were fought to a standstill, with the Austrians to tired to push home their attack. Both sides dug in on the battlefield. A few months later the French Army retired.

The Armies are as follows;

24,500 Infantry. = 24 1/2 points x2 = 49 points.
10,000 Cavalry. = 10 points x2 = 20 points.
Total = 69 points.

1) General Louis Joseph Duc De Vendome C-in-C =1point.
2) General Charles De Lorraine Prince De Commerci =1 point.
3) General Nicholas Catinat =1 point.

2 Stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points =8 points.
11 Stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 33 points.
5 Stands of Line Cavalry @ 3 points = 15 points.
2 Stands of Light Dragoons @ 2 points = 4 points.
3 Stands of Heavy Artillery @ 2 points = 6 points.

Imperial Austria.
17,500 Infantry. = 17 1/2 points. x 2 = 35 points.
7,500 Cavalry. = 7 1/2 points. x 2 = 15 points.
Total 50 points.

A) General Prince Eugene of Savoy C-in-C = 2 points.
B) General Visconti = 1 point.
C) General Vaudemont = 1 point.

1 Stand of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points. = 4 points.
7 Stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points. = 21 points.
3 Stands of Heavy Artillery @ 2 points = 6 points.
5 Stands of Line Cavalry @ 3 points = 15 points.

● Stands can only be moved up onto the Dyke
via the slope at either end.

● Stands moving over the irrigation ditches must stop once the Stand is on them. The stand can be moved normally in the next movement phase.

● A Stand involved in combat whilst positioned in an irrigation ditch, deduct 2 points from their combat die roll.

● The fields do not impede movement or line-of-sight.

● The buildings represent large Farm complexes called "Casines". Stone farmhouses and buildings encompassed by a wall.

● The river Po can only be crossed via the pontoon bridge.

● The Dragoons can dismount.

The Prince De Commerci; This particularly brave Gentlemen was wounded seven times leading cavalry  charges! and expired at the end of the battle!. Therefore;
Each time the French Cavalry under his command move back or are removed,this figure suffers a wound. Should he gain 3 wounds within eight Game-Turns,the figure is removed.

●The battle is fought for 8 Game-Turns.The loser is the army with the most number
of stands lost. If the number of stands lost on both sides is equal, the side with the most
Points in stands looses the battle.

● I fought this battle three times. The first was solo. The second and third with my Wife Joyce and my Stepson Jason. The Austrians won twice and the French once.

This is a map of the battlefield with the positions of the respective armies.

This is the battlefield. I used 15mm 18th century figures. These are mostly Miniature Figurines with some Peter Pig additions.

The square bases are from picture framing card. The round 40mm mdf bases are supplied by Minibits.

The Dyke;
I made this from cardboard in sections. I then covered the sections with texturing
Paste and painting them once the paste had dried.

The fields are Mdf bases sectioned with Cold curing clay. I bought some " wheatfield"
Scenic scatter from War World Scenics. (

The mdf bases came from S and A scenics, and Sarrisa Precision.

The mdf river sections came from a pack supplied by Sarrisa Precision. I added the river bank with Green Stuff putty. I then used emulsion paint and acrylic gloss varnish to finish them off.

The bridge " pontoons" were scratchbuilt as were the farmhouses using picture framing card and foamboard covered with texturing paste.

Friday, 20 September 2019

The Battle of Ceder Mountain 9th August 1862

The letters and numbers are references on the map below.

Union Forces;

2nd Corps; 8,800 = 8.8points x 3 = 27 points rounded up.

E) C-C Nathaniel P Banks @ 1 point

Williams Division;

D) Alpheus Williams @ 1 point.

A) Crawford, 1 x 2nd class Line Infantry @ 2 points.
1 x 1st class Line Infantry @ 3 points.

B) Gordon, 1 x 1st class Line Infantry @ 3points.

C) 1 Heavy Rifled Battery @ 2 points.

Augers Division;

F) Christopher Auger @ 1 point.
G) Geary 1 x 2nd class Line Infantry @ 2 points.
H) Prince 1 x 2nd class Line Infantry @ 2 points.
J) Green 1 x 1st class Line Infantry @ 3 points.

L) 2 x Light Rifled Artillery Batteries  @ 1 point = 2 points.

K) Bayards Cavalry Brigade ( 1 stand) @ 3 points. This brigade can dismount if required. This stand would be represented by 1 stand of horses ( 0 points) and 1 stand of dismounted cavalrymen at 2 points.

Confederate Forces

Jackson= 15000 = 15pts x 3 = 45pts.
A. P. Hill = 10,000 = 10pts x 3 = 30pts.

( 8 ) :  C-in-C :  Stonewall Jackson = 2pts.

Ewell,s Division.

( 1 ) : Richard Ewell = 1pt.

( 2 ) : Trimble :  2 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ) = 4pts.

( 3 ) : Forno :  2 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ) = 4pts.

( 5 ) : Early  : 1 x 1st class Line Infantry = 3pts. 1 x 2nd class Line Infantry = 2pts. = 5pts.

( 4 ) : 3 x Heavy Smoothbore Batteries (2pts) =6pts.

Winder,s Division.

( 6 ) : Charles Winder ( 1pt ).

( 7 ) : Ronald ( stonewall ) 2 x 1st class Line Infantry ( 3pts ) = 6pts.

( 9 ) : 3 Heavy Smoothbore Batteries ( 2pts) = 6pts.

( 10 ) : Taliaferro: 2 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ) = 4pts.

( 11 ) : Garnet : 3 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ) = 6 pts.

Hill,s Division.

( 17 ) Ambrose Powell Hill ( 1pt ).

( 12 ) Thomas : 2 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ) = 4pts. 1 x 1st class Line Infantry 3pts. = 7pts.

( 13 ) Branch : 2 x 1st class Infantry ( 3pts ) = 6pts.

( 14 ) Pender : 2 x 1st class Infantry ( 3pts )= 6 pts.

( 15 ) Archer : 1 x 2nd class Line Infantry ( 2pts ).  2 x 1st class Line Infantry ( 3pts ) = 8pts.

( 16 ) 2 x Light Smoothbore Batteries ( 1pt ) = 2pts.


■ Only the Divisional Commanders are represented in the battle, but
I have listed the Brigade Commanders should you want to do your
own recreation.

■  The Union Army moves first on every Game-Turn.

■ The Union Army gets the initiative point on every Game -Turn.

■ Ceder Creek can be forded.

■ General Winder.
If a field gun in an adjacent square to General Winder is removed as a casualty, General Winder himself is also removed.

After a one Game-Turn gap, the General himself is restored asGeneral Taliaferro ( pronounced Toliver ).
General Winder was mortally wounded sighting the guns.

A.P. Hill,s Division.

No stand of A.P. Hill,s Division can be moved until a stand of Union troops
enters the wood on the South side of the Wheatfield ( marked with an " x " ).

Special movement.

The 2pt infantry are Line infantry. They can move in any direction but
cannot be diced for " avoidance".

Light Field Guns of 1pt can move as Horse Artillery.

Army Equipment.

All muskets are rifled = 3 squares range.

Rifled Cannon = 6 squares range.

Confederate Cannon are minus 1 when firing. ( poor ammiunition.)

Victory Conditions.

《1》The Confederates must remove 5 stands of Union troops by
the end of Game-Turn 8.

《2》The Union must get 2 infantry stands into the woods ( even if they get removed ) and must not loose more than 4 stands by the end of the 8th  Game-Turn. ( not including Generals ).

《3》The Confederates win if the Union army leaves the field
before the end of the 8th Game-Turn.

Well, as before this is my take on the battle based on my own perceptions. Myself and my Wife Joyce have played this twice and I have solo gamed it once. The Confederates can win but they do suffer!

On the day of battle it was extremely hot and the Cofederates suffered from the heat.

 There was also great confusion with the orders as General Jackson didn't let his Divisional Commanders know what he intended.

 General Hill got very angry with Jackson. His Division was further back to the left of the road, but I've represented his Division on table with conditions, as his Division came into the battle piecemeal.

On the Union side, Banks was still smarting from previous defeats. He was ordered to take up a defensive position.

However he was itching to redeem himself and ordered an attack not realising he was outnumbered 3-to-1!!.

I used dismounted cavalry markers for the 2pt infantry stands.

I used 15mm figures and those shown are from Miniature Figurines, Peter Pig and Essex.
The flags are by Peter Pig as are the buildings.

The hills were made by Brian at Essex.
The trees are by various manufacturers.
The outline bases for the wooded areas are by S and A Scenics.

The rivers, road and fields were made from thin cardboard.

The snake fencing is ready painted in 10mm and from
Northumbria Painting Service and MBM Scenery.

This is how the battle was set up on a 3 feet x 2 feet ( 90cm x 60cm ) table with 2 inch ( 50mm ) squares.

A map of the battlefield;

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Great Northern War Part 3 : Narva 20th November 1700

The forces I used were scaled down as follows;

Swedish Army : 11,000 = 11 points.
(11 points x 3= 33 points).

General Rehnskiold ( C-in-C )

2 stands of  line Cavalry @ 3points = 6 points.

 3 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points =6 points.
1 stand of Grenadier Inf @ 3 points.

 1 General=2 points.

General Vellingk:

2 stands of Line Cavalry @ 3 points= 6 points.

3 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 6 points.

1 stand of Grenadier Infantry @3 pts= 3 points.
1 General @ 1 point.

The Russian Army : 20,000 = 20 points.
( 20 points x 3= 60pts ).

General Duke Charles Eugene De Croy  C-in-C.
General Sjeremetiev.

 3  stands of Cavalry @ 3 points = 9 points ( dismounted ).

 3 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 3 points= 9 points.
14 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 28 points.

  6 stands of Militia Infantry Skirmishers @ 1 point = 6 points.

 3 stands of Cossack Light Cavalry @ 2 points = 6 points.
 2 Generals @ 1pt= 2pts.

NOTE:  The Swedes get the initiative on every Game-turn.

●  The Swedish garrison did not play any part in the battle.

●  The artillery of both sides did not play any part in the actual battle.

●  The Russian army totalled 45,000 men, but only 20,000 faced the Swedish army.

●  The Russian defenseworks were given as 2 metres ( 6 feet 6 inches ) in height.

●  The  Swedes managed to break through in two places, hence the gaps. Therefore stands of both sides cannot move over the defense works or engage in close combat.

●  Opposed stands cannot fire across the defenseworks at each other if positioned in squares either side of the defenseworks. However Russian stands can fire out at the Swedish stands if the Russian stands are positioned against the defenseworks on their side and the Swedes are two squares away on the outside.

●  Stands cannot add points for " support " if there is a defense work section between friendly stands.

●  If any Russian stands suffer a " move-back" as a result of Firing or Combat, those stands are  moved toward either the camp or the bridge depending on their position and facing. Any stands that cannot be " moved back" are removed as casualties.

●  At the end of any Ģame-turn should the Russians have two stands on the bridge, a 6 sided die is thrown.   If a " 1" is thrown, the bridge collapses and any stands on it are lost.

Map of the Battle of Narva based on a 2" ( 50mm ) grid.

The " Snowstorm" at Narva.

The Swedes attacked as the storm blew toward the Russian position. Thìs is a procedure devised in an attempt to simulate the event.

GAME-TURN 1:     The Snowstorm is moved forward to the next square as shown in the  photo below. The Swedish stands are moved first.

 If the Swedish stands are moved beyond the " Storm" they  can  be shot at by the Russians.
If any Russian stands are moved there are only two options.

     A:  Turned on the spot.
     B:  They are moved toward the bridge WITH BACKS TO THE ENEMY. 

GAME-TURN 2:    The Snowstorm is moved forward to the 2nd position. The Swedish stands are moved forward.

If any Swedish stands are moved beyond the storm they can be shot at by the Russians.

The Russian movement is either on the spot or toward the bridge.


The Swedish player throws a 6 sided die. If a 1or 2 is  scored the storm lifts. The Swedes become visible to the Russians.
GAME-TURN 3:  The Storm is moved forward to the 3rd position shown on the map. The Swedish player moves their stands. The Russian stands can be turned on the spot or toward the bridge.

AT THE END OF GAME-TURN 3:   The Storm is lifted!.

GAME-TURNS 4 TO 8 :  These are now played as normal, however even in Solo play the Swedish army moves first on every turn.


At the end of the 8th Game-Turn : This will be the player who has lost the lower number of stands.

This photo shows the starting position of the respective armies;

In the actual battle the Swedes charged into the Russian positions under cover of the storm even managing to move some cheveu-de-frise out of the way.

The Swedes needed to win. The small Swedish garrison in Narva was close to exhaustion. The Swedes in the attacking force had left their greatcoats and packs at their camp. The cannon were not used by the Swedes so as not to slow the attack.

The Russians didn't fire their cannon because they could not see the Swedes advancing.

The Russian high command did not expect the outnumbered Swedes to attack!.

Toward the end of the battle a large number of Russians ran for the bridge. There were so many Russian soldiers on the bridge, it collapsed and many drowned in the
icey waters. 

Well, this is my take on the battle. Because this is a 3 foot x 2 foot table ( 90cm x 60cm) I only put in stuff that actually affected the situation.

Credits:   As explained in the previous blog the figures are a mix of Peter Pig and Miniature Figurines. The scenery is from the following souces:

The defense works are homemade using cardboard and cold-cure clay.

I  painted them white then painted over with Tamiya snow-effect paste.

The trees, I got from Amazon. I glued them to to 40mm square cardboard. I mixed up some white acrylic paint and some PVA glue with water so it's nice and runny. I then brushed the mixture onto the tree.

While the mixture was wet my Wife Joyce helped me in sprinkling on the snow dust. I got a " snow kit " from:

The " snowstorm" is white card. The bases I got from:

The tents of the Russian camp are resin and from the Peter Pig scenic range which I painted white and with snow scenic material added.

Finally, the field is overlapping  thin white card sheets with grey squares painted on.  The river is thin blue card. It doesn't look as picturesque as custom made river sections but it makes it easier forming sections for different battles.

I have played this game solo and with my Wife Joyce. In both instances the Swedes won. However if the storm of snow clears early, the Swedes could face a storm of lead instead!!.

Monday, 12 August 2019

The Northern War part 2

I thought I would do another piece just to show you the results of the last 6 months in preparing the the two armies. Although retired I still found myself " burning the midnight oil" to get them completed to war game standard. All 15mm.

The Russian Army;

The Swedish Army;

The camera on my tablet is not brilliant, but I have tried to get some close-ups of the musketeers converted from the excessive pile of pikemen I bought plus the pikemen themselves. The flags are made from masking tape and painted free-hand by myself. They would not win any medals for artwork but at least you know which army the unit belongs to.

The Top picture here shows Russian musketeers converted from the large number of pikemen I didn’t need! The figures are from Miniature Figurines.

The middle picture here shows dismounted Polish cavalry ( red and white squares ) which are from the Minifigs range. The horse's and riders are converted from the Peterpig AWI range with Peterpig monteforino heads.

This is a part work to represent Narva in the board. Using a square grid makes the measuring and cutting of building parts a lot easier.

This was also built and painted in a day. I covered the whole model in texturing paste (sometimes called Gesso?? ) before doing the paint job.

I used all picture framing cardboard for this job.  The weather was bad in November 1700 so all battlefield effects need to have snow in them, but on this fortress piece I want a temporary effect so I can use it for other battles.

I still have some defensework pieces to prepare that will fit the grid.

Why bother? Well, I find that even when you are doing a war game solo, having the scenery near enough to something like the actual conditions adds to the "mental immersion" into the battle itself. It's all part of the enjoyment of the hobby.

I have used the weather rules before ( See Table Top Battles, Wargaming on a Grid 2nd Edition). A French force had to dislodge a Piedmontese force from a siegework at the point of the bayonet. The weather during the game came up with a die result of " storm" so muskets could not fire.

However this will be the first time I have tried to recreate a historical winter battle, ( in 50 odd years in the hobby! ). This is one of the many reasons that I love war gaming. There is always something new that surprises me even now.

If you have managed to stick with me so far, the next blog will be the battle. Oh! Just to re-cap;

The musketeers and pike men are from Miniature Figurines which is part of Caliver Books.
All the cavalry are from Miniature Figurines Northern War range but the heads on the Line Cavalry were converted from lobsterpot to Peterpig Tricorn heads.

The Cavalry Standards are conversions of the same cavalry figures. The standard pole is from North Star 50mm javelin.

The line infantry Standard bearers, Officers and Drummers are Peterpig AWI range.
The dismounted cavalrymen are Peterpig Jaegers.

The cavalry markers are Peterpig AWI British horses, the horseriders have Peterpig tricorn heads (conversion).

The Small Cannon and crews are all Peterpig AWI range as are the Generals. The Large Cannon are from the Peterpig English Civil War range.

The 40mm square Stands are cardboard I cut myself.

The round 40mm round mdf Stands are supplied by Minibits which I think is linked to Pendraken Miniatures.

I think thats covered everything for the moment. ( hopefully!! )

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Those Swedes and Russians in The Northern War

Yes indeed. As written in a previous blog I came late to the party on this one. I thought that all I needed was a load of pikes to add to my existing collection and I had it covered, right?. I purchased about 90 Swedish pikemen in 15mm from Miniature Figurines got them all prepped and--------------- reality struck!!.

Y,see, this is what happens when you don't do some research. Over the year's I had seen the odd painting of these battles and vaguely remember loads of pikes, rather like the Thirty years war so I based my premise on that.

 What do you do when the cold light of day shatters your fantasy. Once you have wiped the cold sweat from your brow, you grit your  teeth, clear the deck and start again.

In regard to the Swedes they had a standard set up for their foot regiments with  two muskets for each pike being the ratio. In the Russian army it was roughly four muskets to each pike.

Now, by this time it appears the bayonet proper had been invented i.e. it was attached to the end of the musket barrel as opposed to being plugged in like a cork thereby rendering said musket inoperable.

Also by now the military thinkers had realised that if you launch enough lead in the direction of the enemy, you might be able to make them run away before having to get close enough to stick bits of metal in them.

Humans are not as a rule born with psychopathic tendencies so you have to prepare them for close combat with bits of metal, but people don't mind shooting at a distance preferably from behind a barricade of some description. Anyway, I digress.

The old pike was gradually being phased out by all armies during this period in favour of more firearms.  Within each regiment, the pikes were carried in the regimental wagons until required. In some formations they were got rid of all together eventually being sawn in half and used as defensive stakes.

 I cannot seem to find out why some formations still used them at this time, after all it takes a very brave man indeed to carry a pointy stick into a gunfight! But none-the-less, they did. ( as a note the British army still had their pikes in this period but never used them having by now perfected the volley fire ).

So, getting back to those figures, what could I do?. Lucky for  me the metal is pliable. First I cut the pike off BUT I didn't  throw it away.  Next I flattened out the hands.

Then the tricky bit. Using a pair of small pliers I bent the right arm down so it was positioned below the left arm. Next taking a piece of the pike I flattened one end then glued it to the figure.

 The flattened end in the right hand the round section in the left. I then cut it down to match the 15mm figure. I was trying to make it look like the figure was making ready to level his musket.

 It worked. On one or two occasions the right arm broke off when moving it but I just glued it back on with the "musket". This first pic shows the Minifigs pikemen and converted pikemen plus Peterpig officer.

The drummer is also a Peterpig figure. Both figures are from their AWI range. Well, at this point in history infantry coats were starting to have turnbacks. In terms of colour the Swedes were already using blue. 

The Russians  were using red, blue or green but eventually Czar Peter picked Green as no one else was using the colour! So the Russians could have regiments in different coat colours. Also new coats were not issued until the old ones virtually fell to pieces so the style  varied as well.

Right. the Cavalry. Same thing again. I bought a load of Minifigs Roundhead cavalry thinking that would be the style. Wrong!! The latest research says that the cocked hat or "tricorn" was coming into vogue. 

The Karpus or Monteforino cap was still used but it was expensive to make. Lucky enough the Peterpig range has heads so out came the pindrill and the heads were changed from lobster helmet to tricorn.

 I also find out that the Russians dismounted their cavalry so I bought dismounted markers. Peterpig AWI dismounted  cavalry with changed heads. Yes I know now that Essex Miniatures do dismounted figures but this is what happens when you dive in "head first". ( really bad pun!!). Yep and Irregular miniatures do a range as well, I know.

Right, how does this all equate to the grid. There is a current train of thought that during the English Civil War the musketeers went behind the pike blocks rather than amongst them so I have put the pikemen on a separate base to the muskets. In the system I use, the points of the pike stand is added to any musket stand in an adjacent square that is in close combat with an enemy stand.

I have three stands of pike with twelve stands of muskets and extra stands of muskets if the scenario excludes pikes altogether.

 Light irregular cavalry were used. Polish for the Swedes and Cossacks for the Russians. The situation was not always as clear cut as that and they were not used in "the line". There were no light infantry in the professional sense, and irregulars filled the gap.

Artillery tactics varied between nations. The Swedes tended toward aggressive tactics so used lighter artillery that could be moved forward quickly. The Russians were more defensive in nature so tended to use larger guns in static positions. Neither  side had the monopoly on losing their artillery during or after battle!!

Both the Swedes and the Russians had Grenadiers within each Regiment. The Swedes used a company, half of which were at each end of a deployed Regiment. The Russians started seperating the Grenadiers from the parent units and brigading them within their own formations. 

From the limited information I have read, neither group had any outstanding influence in battle as far as I can make out. The same can be said for Horse Grenadiers in Russian service. Also, it seems the "line" of both sides were not at the same level of efficiency as those of later wars. 

The conditions in which the soldiers served were not as draconian as the British and later Prussian armies. As for the pikes I have put the Grenadiers on their own stands for both armies. All this wordage still only gives a brief description of the main protagonists in this War and is only written from my own perspective, but here is how I made up my armies and the points allotted to each troop type;

15 stands of muskets at 2 points each.

3 stands of pike at 3 points each ( close combat only )

6 stands of cavalry at 3 points each ( can dismount  to shoot).

4 stands of irregular cavalry at 2 points each ( can dismount  to shoot )

6 stands of irregular infantry at 1 point each.

2 stands of heavy field guns at 2 points each.

4 stands of light field guns at 1 point each.

3 stands of " trained line" at 3 points each ( the Grenadiers)

I would like to point out that because I ended up with so many figures to convert due to my rawness I had to paint them all. You, dear reader, will not make the same mistake so you won't need as many figures as given in the above list!!

The high command on both sides wasn't  exceptional so each army has a general of 2pts and two generals of 1pt each. I hope the above information will save you from the blunders I have made and yes I did cut all the bayonets off the infantry just to compound my ignorance.

This second photo shows everything at the halfway point of my lunacy.

The Swedish Amy is on the left with the Polish cavalry sporting the red and white flags. On the right is the completed Russian pike. Just to finish this article, both sides made extensive use of their respective Navies. Sweden already had an established maritime presence in the Baltic. Czar Peter had to start from scratch but the Russians didn't sit on their hands and soon had a Navy to match the Swedes on equal terms.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Building a 15mm ship

In recent times I have had a request for some instructions, on how I built the basic version of the sailing ships that were pictured in the original copy of Table Top Battles. These models were built for 15mm figures and guns. The length of the ship is 100 mm so that it fits into the 100mm x 100mm (4" x 4" ) square grid I use for sea warfare.

The ship's that are shown in the latest copy are the same basic design but with extra bits added back and front. The originals were a rush job built in a day many years ago. I have made this version slightly wider than the original

So, having done some measurements which are all in millimetres, I've done a series of pictures to make assembly easier. Also, because my photographic skills are virtually nil, I have repeated the pictures of the measurements at the end of the montage.

I used texturing gel to cover the completed model but you could use PVA with a little water added to seal the model.

Lastly you may  need a stronger glue to fix the pieces of straw in place. These are added to help keep the sails upright.

*  Foamboard or thick cardboard for the base, 5mm thick.
*  A sheet of card. I use the picture framing card but a cereal packet will do.
*  Some kebab sticks for the masts. These have to be detachable to show damage.
*  A drinking straw.
* A cutting knife ( ask Mum or Dad about this bit if you need help )
* Some PVA GLUE.
* A brush for the above.
* Some cocktail sticks.
* A board to cut out the parts on ( I don't want to be cited in a divorce case over damage to the dining table!! ). 

My apologies for the presentation. I'm still on the upward slope of a very steep learning curve !!!.

                                                           Fig 1




                                                              Fig 5





Fig 10






Thursday, 20 June 2019

An 18th Century Expansion

Yes, I have to admit this was a digression on my part. It was not meant to happen. The 18th century has been a major interest to me for the last 20 or so years. However I had previously concentrated on the wars surrounding Frederick the Great. I got this insane idea on collecting " a few" figures for the The Great Northern War ( does the first part of this sentence ring any warning bells to you?).

Back in 2005 I ran the second of two postal campaigns based on the 7 Years War. The previous one used the conditions of the War of the Austrian Succession as its background. At this time the armies I had were quite large ( each army was of 84 stands!!,

 Don't ask me how I managed to paint them all and hold down a regular job !!). There were six players representing Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Hanover and Piedmont in the first. The 2nd being Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Hanover and the British Colonies in America.

For most of the 18th century the British Army played an auxilliary role to the Hanovarian forces. I also had armies representing Spain and the Italian City States, Genoa, Modena and Naples.

Basically armies moved from state to state ( the map is available in my book Table Top Battles ) . When two opposing armies moved into the same area I fought out the battle, solo, and sent the results to each player.

To set up the battle I would briefly research the ground using mainly modern maps and old ones if I could find any online to view. I would look at the numbers on each side then throw dice to decide who wanted to attack or defend. I then set up suitable terrain based on the maps I had seen.

There were a few surprises. In one game I set up, the Prussian camp was attacked by the Austrians.  I gave the battle a name based on the nearest town only to find out later that Frederick had actually camped near that town on one of his Campaigns!.

On another occasion the Prussian player used a strategic move which came to grief  over several campaign turns. Again I later found out through reading that Frederick has discounted this strategy because the supply lines were to vulnerable. I had taken this into account while umpiring!!

After these campaigns finished  I sold a large amount of the collection. This was in part due to outside influences but I still maintained a dozen or so bases of each nation. I just could not bring myself to let go of all of them.

A few years later. I found myself at a loose end one evening when my Wife was on a night shift. ( I very rarely had these as a working person at that time!!) and I realised  that I had never in my Wargaming Life attempted a historical game.

By now my available table space being 3 feet by 2 feet and my collection being a lot smaller,how was I to do this??. I started by picking a battle, in this case Lobositz.I then looked at the terrain. I knew I could not build the battlefield in its true features so I picked out the parts that influenced the battle. The armies were scaled at 1point for 500 men ( this Procedure is also shown in Table Top Battles ).

Not having large armies I "allied" certain figures together, in this case Prussia, Brunswick and Wurttemberg on one side, Austria,  Saxony, and Riechsarmee on the other. All the scenery was set up on the grid in a rough approximation of the battlefield and I set up the scaled down version of each army using the smaller squares to ascertain positions. It worked! Much to my surprise!.

I used the solo rules ( updated in the 2nd edition) and the result was a hard fought victory for the Prussians. We now come full circle to the reason as to why I am collecting another Swedish and Russian Army ( yes they went with the previous lot!. Why do we do it!!???). I want to to do as many historical battles as I can and write about them. I  retired from work at 65 ( I consider myself very fortunate) and this is a task I've set myself. I want to start in some sort of chronological order, so I,m starting with the Northern and Mulburian era. I,ve also dicovered that having painted the armies, I have to collect and paint dismount markers!. This is because the Russians, and in some cases the Swedes used their Cavalry in a dismounted roll.Hence the reasoning behind painting up the figures. In turn I haven't had much time for blogging.  Now I just need to paint up some Xhosa------------

This rather bad photo was taken from my old mobile to give you some idea of my methods.

These next pics are of the dismount markers prepped. The horse's are from The PeterPig AWI RANGE with the heads changed from the casque to tricorns from the HEAD range. The dismounted cavalrymen are PeterPig Jaegers, again from the AWI range. For the dismounted Poles, Cossacks and Militia I used figures from the Miniature Figurines Great Northern War with PeterPig Command. The flags are masking tape and roughly painted ( or will be) by me.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Genesis of a ruleset

It sounds a bit grand doesn't it?. It's been a long road. I started war gaming in 1968. I had a game called " Battle of the Bighorn produced by a company called Waddingtons. For those of a much younger age, the game provided plastic figures of the U.S. Cavalry on foot and American Indians.

The soldiers were set up in the middle of the board and the Indians were set up around the edges. The idea of the game was to try and get the standard off the table with as many soldiers as possible ( I think!). The main thing about this game was that it was played on squares.

That set me thinking. At that time Airfix were producing plastic figures of Romans and Gaullic tribesmen. I made up my own board of 1 inch squares and started using a modified rule set from the game to fight the battles.

Moving on to 1970 and Don Featherstones book : Battles with Model Soldiers made its appearance. For me it was a revelation!. Proper Wargaming. All through the 70,s and 80,s this book was the bedrock of all subsequent gaming activities with my mates. Other inventions and systems were used and or amended as required.

Through all this time there were  good and not so good games. I was the one entrusted to write the rules and on occasion, especially when things were not going to well for one side or the other the inevitable arguments would rise to the surface.

" that unit is out of range because the distant is short by 1/8th of an inch"!
" that's not a melee  because you moved them, and even right at the end of the move distance they are still 1/8th of an inch short so you cannot use your melee bonus to decimate my unit!
And so on.

I wanted to use squares but my mates didn't like them so you go with the majority vote. As one of them said " you cannot cheat with squares!
Indeed at one point I was so depressed with the constant wrangling I actually binned an entire  group  of 150 figures that I had only just converted and painted!!.

Well, you know how it is. Once war gaming is in the blood you cannot give it up, and I started back in 6mm. I bought a load of Heroics and Ros English civil War figures. The main reasons for this is because, ( a) they were cheap and (b) they were quick to paint.
 I wrote some rules for using them and  the same group used them. This was one of the the best situations we ever did.

A mate of mine came up with a campaign and he also did an area campaign map of Britain. There were 6 of us, three Royalist and three Parliamentarians. ( Yes, I was Charles the 1st which gives you some idea of what happened to me!!).

However, the campaign went really well. We fought small actions using my mates 28mm figures and the larger actions using my 6mm stuff. Even without doing anything totally historical the campaign culminated in the siege of Oxford. We actually recreated roughly the city of Oxford and it's defences on a 6' by 4' table using all my 6mm figures and buildings.

The city fell and ended the campaign. The rules that I used seem to work well and  were accepted by the group.  I wrote them up ,and entitled " Matchlock " I submitted the set to Partizan Press who published them in 1988.

Situations never stay the same, and thus it was for our group. Everyone went their separate ways as life guided each individual on their separate path to follow  their own destiny ( profound philosophy here!!).

I was having the odd game on remote occasions but more often solo. I met Joyce and after a time together she asked about war gaming. Well, she had a go, but it was obvious that that the historical complexities were going over her head.

However I did not want to dent her enthusiasm so, that's when I decided to ditch the historical stuff and go right back to basics. With squares. Once again I had to start from scratch having had to sell most of my figures to cover debts. This time I started again with 15mm.

I wrote up a rule set using the squares and Joyce picked up on it really quickly. In time I also met other blokes who were interested in Wargaming and also had a go at the game using the squares. One in particular (sadly deceased) wanted to try Fantasy gaming but could not get his head around  the rules printed by the Nottingham Empire. After playing the grid game I had set up, he was hooked. Joyce was instrumental in the way the game was structured in order that It could be picked up quickly and easily.

I married Joyce.

With extensive  help of my Brother- in- Law Des, who had a computer and  Jill, one of Joyce's friends, who typed up the original manuscript, the first attempt at publishing came about.

" Wavey Bayonets And Spaghetti  Spears" was the first attempt at this. It got a small write up in Miniature Wargames , the title came from an article I had read. Needless to say it got a few sells but died quietly!!

By this time I had realised that the hobby was moving upmarket with some big hitters making their presence known. The rule system worked so ,with some add- ons and a colour cover, Table Top Armies made its appearance. Once again with my brother- in -laws help plus a review in Wargames Soldiers and Strategy we tried to get it out there. Another quiet death!!

I must admit I was ready to give up, but something kept driving me. I knew the rule system was good. People who had never wargamed had tried it and enjoyed playing. Those that had time were coming back. At this time my financial situation was picking up a bit but I realised  I had to present something a bit more " professional ".

So, once again with a great deal of help from my Brother in Law with his computer skills plus a ISBN NUMBER, TABLE TOP BATTLES. came out. At this time I was also running a postal campaign based on the War of the Austrian Succession. I did a later one based on the Seven years War. Both went very well.

 There was a good review in Battlegames, and Patizan Press were doing the distribution. This time there was some movement and I was told that small numbers were selling world  wide . Since 2007 it has been selling in small numbers.

Fast forward to 2018. During that year a review suddenly appears in Miniature Wargames. I was a bit surprised. The basic premise was that the rule set was ok but a bit history-lite and not for serious gamers.
Well, mentally I agreed with this in principle, however I still felt that they could still hold an historical game together.

A time later I received a letter from a friend telling me that a member of the Solo Wargames Association ( now online and called Lone Warrior. Editor is Richard Barbuto.) had reviewed them and played an historical game. The reviewer found that although Table Top Battles was not historical the rule set still gave a historical result!

My morale was restored by reading of this.  I still felt that the rule system rocked!!
In the last few years the Wargames Association of Reading has allowed me to present  a Participation Game at their annual Warfare event in Reading. This has also been well received by those members of the public who tried a game.

Now here we are in 2019 with  digital technology well and truly wrapped around humanity. One of my Stepsons suggested putting the book on-line. I also thought about going the whole distance by updating the book with a new cover etc.
After 46 years of work I had also been lucky to reach retirement!

So it was that Table Top Battles version 2 appeared both as a paperback and pdf file. It has been selling slowly but steady. On a personal level I felt vindicated. It won't be everybody's "cup of tea" but judging by the success of  Richard Borgs Command and Colours system using hexes. Peter Pigs rules, some of which use squares ( and pre-date my efforts). The release of " To the Strongest " by Simon Miller and " Tin Soldiers in Action by Rudiger and Klaus Hofrichter more recently, show that the use of the square grid in war gaming has found its place in the hobby.

Joe Morschauser started using squares back in the 60s and Charles Sweet continued in the70s but very few people ( including myself) knew of them until recently.

 I feel proud that I have helped kickstart this particular form of wargaming back in to the mainstream. As stated in previous blog posts, using a grid makes a lot  of movement rules redundant. There is no argument about whether a target is in or out of range and  close combat is unequivocal. I will continue using squares and my one regret is not sticking to this system in the first place. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

Hopefully you, dear reader have managed to stay awake through all the above! Next time I will be writing about scratchbuilding ships.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

What's my Timeline

As a " cardigan dude" in the grand scheme of war gaming, I have gamed many historical and a few non historical eras. When I started I knew very little of actual military history. Like most wargamers I was influenced by the film's that I watched or books that I read. My early war gaming consisted of a grid of 1 inch squares with a plastic figure in each square. You had to roll a six to hit.

Having read Donald Featherstones Battles with Model soldiers when it appeared in 1970, I started out with the American Civil War. At that time Airfix had both Union and Confederate boxes of figures on sale. Information about the war were in plentiful supply at the library. The figures were never painted or based!, the game was more important.

The first foray into metal came when I read a copy of the Airfix magazine. A company called Miniature Figurines were advertising metal figures in 25mm (??).
Infantry were 1 shilling (5 pence ) and Cavalry were 2 shillings ( 10 pence ). I think at that time I bought some Imperial Romans and Barbarians. The game was always a fight on the edge of Hadrians wall ( a company called Britain's made farmyard walling which was quite tall compared to the figures.

Anyway, I,m waffling, more to the point what do I actually like war gaming.

First: The 18th century. There were conflicts going on all over the planet from small scale skirmishes to full scale battles. The numbers involved in a large battle were between 20/50 thousand. Those in a small battle maybe 500 to a few thousand. You can pitch Europeans against Amerindians or Asian warriors. Alliance's changed at various times so that one minute the Austrians were fighting the French the next time they would be allies. Famous commanders didn't always have it their own way. In this century, the British army were auxilliaries to the Hanovarian army with the Duke of Cumberland making a fair few blunders! Even Frederick the Great lost battles simply by underestimating his opponents!!

The uniforms are straightforward to paint and nowhere as complicated as the Napoleonic wars. As a bonus one or more countries used more or less the same colours. In addition to this the Navy played a more integrated part in moving troops around. So, virtually any scenario you can think of can be played out on the table.

Number 2: The late Roman Empire. By this time in history the Western Empire was suffering. As ground was being lost to small tribes of Barbarians the amount of money in taxes was also being reduced. Emperors were fighting userpers with Roman armies fighting each other and the Barbarians. Eventually the Native tribesmen became the Roman army. As central authority broke down, petty kingdoms rose up. Even the Huns were employed by the Romans as auxiliary cavalry. So you can mix and match troop types to make up opposing forces.

3: The American Civil War. This needs no intro. Most people know about the war if not the politics. In this instance you either need infantry and guns or cavalry. Very few battles were fought with all three arms present. Most of the bigger battles were fought in the East.

The Western theatre had the smaller but more diverse armies. This theatre also created a lot of raids. Once again the uniforms are a doddle to paint, with the added bonus that most of the combatants  looked pretty tatty after a few months in the field. ( to be honest our war game armies are a lot more well dressed and tidy than their real life counterparts!!)

Even groups of Amerindians were part of the armies on both sides. Well, these are the three main eras that I have armies for, and I have the greatest and longest interest in. I have done others ;

The Thirty Years War. The English Civil War.  The Napoleonic Wars in Italy , The 14th century in Italy. The Roman Republic and Hannibalic Wars (all in various scales ) but I,ve always maintained in interest in the three listed above. Don't ask me why. I think in part it's because of the simplicity and diversity in each of the three periods. Armies do not have to be massive and the individual formations don't have to have loads of figures.

I have also had science fiction forces in 6mm and 28mm. 10mm armies of Orcs and Humans have also been part of my wargaming life.

I have never done other 19th century eras or done anything on World War 1 or 2.
Maybe because my parents and their relatives were involved. I don't know. However as a " last Hurrah!" I might go into 6mm once again mainly because of the space I have to store stuff.One is the Russo-Polish war 1917 to 1925 and/or the Franco Austrian war of 1859.

One final era that I have some figures for is the 12th century ( 28mm!!),. I'm thinking of doing some actions on Sicily at skirmish level.  We shall see. Apart from this there are a few sci- fi figures sitting in a draw waiting to see the light of day!!

Just to clarify, I use 15mm figures for the 18th century and the American Civil War, and 20mm plastics  ( with a few metal figures ) for the Late Roman Empire.

Next time I'll write some stuff about the current rule set. Oh! and some board games!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Scenery for the Grid.

When I started using a grid, I wanted the scenery to fit in with this system. Now, I realised that I could have irregular shaped scenery, however I did,nt want the stands of figures standing at odd angles and being half-on or half-off the scenery.

Another problem I have found is that should you want to make up the table to play an historical battle,having irregular scenery makes it harder ( to me anyway) to work out how big or at what scale to make the armies.

Therefore I decided to try and make the scenery fit to the square system. This created my first problem in that most war game scenery is made for the figure scale not for the table. This meant I  would probably have to make my own.

I will say at this at this point that I have acquired ( when I could afford it) tailor made scenery, but most times I have made my own. It's not brilliant, but it does fit the 2 inch grid.

The next item was , how much scenery do I need?. Well, I decided firstly how big a table I had room for. Years ago I had a 6x4 foot table, then a 7x5 foot table. That is 180cm x 120cm then 210 x 150 cm. That was when I was using measuring tapes and bounce sticks. At that time I was a flat dweller therefore on numerous occasions I had to move the furniture to accommodate the table,and the guys I used to wargame with. I was also using 28mm figures.

Fluctuating fortunes in the job market made sure I never became a home owner. Fluctuating money supply made selling my figure collections an unavoidable event.

Fast forward a few years. I'm still a flat dweller and married, with children coming and going according to the ebb and flow of their own circumstances. Also elderly relatives were reaching the time in life when they needed help.

Having a large war game table with big scenery and loads of 28mm figures is no longer an option. So, thinking "Bejou and compact" the table is 3 x 2 feet, (90 x 60 cm). Everything I play is geared to that table size. The table is in one corner of the bedroom. This means I can have a game and leave it in situ should we have visitors.

So, having fixed the board size I  worked on the amount of scenery required. Having thought about the sort of battles I wanted to do this is the basic requirement I  came up with ;

6 hills, 8 x 8 inches ( 20cm x 20cm)
6 hills 4 x 4 inches ( 10cm x 10cm)
3 base outlines for woods  6 x 8 inches ( 15cm x 20cm)
The trees themselves are not fixed and on their own bases. This is so I can move them to put figure stands within the woods.

For rivers I use thin blue card overlapping marked in two inch segments. I use 2 inch (50cm) wide pieces for small rivers/ streams. I use 4 and 6 inch width ( 10cm and 15cm) for larger rivers requiring a boat to cross. The reason being that using cheap card allows me to make any kind of river formation.

The same reasoning applies to roads and the outline of villages. I use light brown card for this. I tried using sticky tape but having left it on the board to long the tape was a job to get off! and it marked the board.

Over the course of time I have built all kinds of scenery. It's not that good but it forfills a requirement . In recent times I wanted a fleet of 4inch (40mm) long ships wide enough to fit a stand in. I built 18 ships. They would definitely NOT win any awards for expert modelling! but, I can get my Saxon warbands ashore in Southern Britain.

The materials I use are;
Cardboard, the thick type used for picture framing and the other thin stuff.
Sandwich board, the stuff with a layer of foam between two pieces of cardboard.
Cocktail sticks.
PVA glue.
Texturing paste. This stuff can only be got from an art store or online. It's not cheap but you get a big pot. This  is great if your model doesn't  go together accurately. You just brush the paste on and let it dry. It can be undercoated and painted as normal. It's handy for covering over the rough bits!!.

Next time I'll talk about the era's  I'm  interested in and why.

The top pictures show my boats ( sorry, barges)
The bottom pictures show the castle. All scratchbuilt.

The figures are Hat Industries Goths and Emhar Viking Rowers.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Paint Job.

Yes, the paint job. Now, having perused the 
war gaming journals, it should be a doddle, Right! Well it can be. These days there are a fair number of online blogs and material in print that show you in great detail how to paint your figures. The people who write them know their stuff garnered through experience. The bottom line is to get the toys on the table!

This is my own method of getting them done. I have,nt got any facilities for spraying so I have to use brushes. Years ago there were only enamel paints, and many are the nights I stayed up to the early hours of the morning getting bombed out on the smell!!, then going to work with a headache!! Thank You to the Inventor of acrylics!! With acrylics you wash your brushes in water. The turpentine rinse has been consigned to history!

For the wee men from 2mm to 12mm I use a mid brown undercoat. For 15mm I use brown or white. For 20mm plastic I use brown. The reason for not using black is that I cannot see the detail even under a good light. The black seems to " absorb the light ". Using some sort of medium colour as an undercoat also means you don't have to be to accurate when applying the paint.

For the 20mm plastics, I get em' out the box and wash them in warm soapy water with a scrubbing brush. When they are dry, I cut them off the spruce and take off the flash, then I stick any bits together with Evostick or whichever universal glue you are familiar with. I then stick the figures to strips of cardboard. (Que dodgy photo at the top of this blog!). These are Taiashi Camels by Hat Industries. The spears are cut down javelin from North Star Miniatures.

Once they have dried I brush each figure with runny PVA GLUE. This dries pretty quickly and gives the paint something to stick to. I then undercoat with brown paint.

When I've  painted the figures, I  coat each figure with acrylic Gloss varnish. I do this to protect the figure because being a bit bendy it keeps the paint in place.

Now, I know that if you are just starting out your first paint job. Don't worry. Remember the idea is you are painting to play, not to display! You want numbers. For example, I don't bother with things like eyes and buttons. My own figures are painted for wargaming ( i.e. not brilliant!).

I dont want to bore you to death, so I'll try to be as succinct as I can. Firstly the 2/ 12mm figures. After cleaning any flash, I tack the metal figures to strips of cardboard using glue. Some people use blu-tack on milk bottle tops. Next I undercoat them brown and let them dry. I will say here that I prep ALL the figures before I start painting. Again it's a psychological thing with me. If you have to stop for any reason, it's hard to get going again. The boring bit is the prep work so I try to get through a.s.a.p.

Ok, now, having undercoated I start with the bits I can ACTUALLY SEE. I dab colour on ALL trousers, then ALL jackets. You get the picture.

Next, dab on the flesh for the face. This is the point where you can say" My army lives"!!!!! It's Alive!!.  Que: thunder and lightning  and maniacal crackling. Not to much. You might frighten the family and they will lock you in a cupboard!!.

I don't worry about crossbelts, but  it's up to you. I paint the muskets black or you can leave em' brown. Paint any swords or bayonets silver. Last of all paint the hat.

The above is of course for horse and musket. The approach to Ancients is roughly the same.

After undercoating brown, it's tunics ( or the bits of tunic I can see!). Next, it's faces, then weapons , shields and helmets. With ancient, it's shields and weapons that people notice. If you think this is a bit lazy (weeeellll!!), put the strip on the table about a foot (300mm) in front of you. This is how you will be using em'. Now, how much can you see??. You can see (geddit!) where I'm coming from.

All the above is pretty basic, I  know , but hopefully it will help get things cooking. I haven't mentioned about 28mm because the larger the figure the more detail to be applied so it takes more time to do fewer figures. These days, there are also 15 and 28mm figures in hard plastic that involves sticking body parts together. They are extremely well detailed. Personally, I steer clear of these because I become fumble fingered when I'm  against the clock! I like to crack on with the painting. I will assemble stuff but I don't like spending lots of time on it.

Thus we have come full circle. So, have a think, look at the space, look at the time involved, and the finance and all being well  all your efforts will end up as part of your game and not part of a jumble sale.

Next time we will look at the scenery and its effect on gaming.The picture below is of some Peter Pig AWI FIGURES being painted as Prussians and Austrians. The white flag bearer on the left a Miniature Figurines converted Russian infantryman.