Thursday, August 18, 2016

Little Cold Wars

A belated shout out to Tim Gow over the publication of his Little Cold War rules (available as a real book or an ebook).  In keeping with my cheap and impatient nature I picked up the ethereal version on Amazon and give it a full recommendation.

The game simulates 1970s cold war actions using 54mmish toy soldiers and toy tanks.  It is played in an HG Wells manner, using match stick firing cannons and dart board anti tank fire!   It's goofy as all get out, a heck a lot of fun to play and gives a very good game. As afar as I could tell it also does a pretty reasonable job of simulating armour and infantry combat in a mid-to-late 20th century environment.  And there are good resources on unit organization, equipment and where to find the silly toys!

I play tested an early version of the game back in 2014 (see the AAR report) and am in fact the Canadian play tester referenced in the rules.  I could sorely be tempted to play this on my back lawn, if I can locate a good source of toys (lacking the car boot sales available to Mr Gow et al).  I fore see clashes in a post breakup Canada between the Cape Breton Liberation Army, Soviet Canuckistan and le Quebec Libre.  Please note that these were not invented by me but by a Nova Scotian comic, a right wing American wacko and a senile French generalissimo.

Later addition - ok I was waaay too flippant on Quebec Nationalism there, which has of course been a recurring theme in Canadian politics for 50 odd years.  I am however thinking of a French French supplied and influenced French Canadian force.  In my experience Quebecois view the idea of influence from Paris with about as much joy as they view influence from London, Ottawa or Washington.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Kardstadt am Eder

Followers of this blog might note that when it comes to obtaining wargaming toys and accessories, my attitude can be best described as cheap and impatient.   Having looked over my terrain and buildings,  I decided that I needed buildings that would be appropriate for my SYW Kleine Kreig project.  A quick flip through tourism guides and photos on the web showed me that the period architecture of Western Germany looked a lot like those beautiful model railway buildings sold by Faller et al.  However a mass mail order of plastic kits wasn't going to meet my budget or attention span.

A better option would be home scratch builds.  I consider myself reasonably proficient with foam core, artist board and scrap cardboard and feel that I can turn out a workman-like final product.  Unlike some members of the fraternity I quite enjoy this type of modelling project.  I will likely turn to this option down the road.  I find that January and February are good times for building construction - a good project when the budget is tight, the nights are freezing and Christmas packaging is a ready source of materials. 

But in the interim cheap and fast gave me a clarion call in the form of emails from Wargames Vault about free samples of Dave Graffam card model kits and deep discounts on Graffam kits.  So off I went.

A completed model of the freebie hovel in the foreground and a work in progress Carriage house in the background.
What you get  are a set of PDF files that you can print out and assemble as buidlings.   The hovel and carriage house above were two of the freebis.  FOr the hovel I rpinted the templates on regular paper and glued them to a cut up cereal box (Gluten Free Chocolate Chex)  with the spray adhesive visible in the background.   I believe that the section of the Leader Post that I used has an article on Canadian Literary icon Margaret Attwood, who is a second or similar cousin on my mother's side.  My maternal grandmother had a regular correspondence with "Peggy" right up to her death at 99 and received signed copies of all of Atwood's works.

Same buildings, different angle.  Note the flaps on the carriage house to attach the roofs.
Given the small size of the model and the stiffness of the cereal box, the hovel is quite sturdy and set to be used on table.  I glued the carriage house onto light card stock, which is less rigid.  Combined with the bigger size, this one will need more support.  I figure on using foam core inside the walls to give it some bulk.  We have a good supply of slightly used foam core thanks to my wife's time as a Brownie and Guide leader.

From another angle.
The carriage house comes with two roof pieces and an optional dormer winder which I will mount in the white rectangle visible above.  This kit is a marvel of options.  It is a layered PDF file that let's you pick wall types (brick, stone or wood), roof options, window and door positions, weathering (see the cracks in the shot above) etc.  You can reuse the same kit many times and get different results on each one. 
A different arrangement of walls, windows and doors on the carriage house

So far I am having fun and am pleased on the results.  More posts to follow.

The finished hovel looks suitable to house Hansel and Gretel.

Close up of the Carriage House.  You can see the need for internal support.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fischer's Chasseurs

Another iconic unit from the Kleine Krieg, this time for the French Army.  Fischer's Chasseurs were formed for the War of Austrian Succession by Johann Fischer, a German officer who distinguished himself at the Siege of Prague.  By the Seven Years War it included mounted and dismounted chasseurs.  They were one of the best light units in the SYW and served in an awful lot of Kleine Krieg actions.  Late in the SYW , the unit was given to the Duke of Conflates with Fischer continuing as second in command until his death in 1762.

This unit represents 6 dismounted chasers plus an officer.  There were supposed to be 2 groups of 6 plus officers, but it turns out that I can't add.  I ended up with 2 officers and 6 other ranks instead of 12.  Oh well, that will be rectified eventually.   To avoid postal gouging I ordered these to be delivered to my dad when I was visiting the Uk in May.  They were painted up on my return in June and took part in our first SP2 action (albeit with plain bases).  Since then I have added texture and fluff to the bases.

The figures are from From Rank, and these are the first Front Rankers that I've painted.  I have to say that I was impressed with the figures and I will likely get more.  I expect to remain a mainly Perry man for a variety of reasons, but it's nice to have a variety.  In this case I went with Front Rank as there aren't many options for a light infantry figure in a mirliton.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pike and Shotte Inspiration

Gaze on ye mortals and be humbled....

You have likely seen photos of the game on the Perry's site and FB page.  These two bloggers did the armies involved.

Army Royal

Je Lay Emprins.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Seven Years War Inspiration

I caught this in Monday's online edition of the Guardian.

On a slightly different note I also found this trailer, with similar stunning visuals and equally impressive sound track.

Luckner's Hussars

This unit for my Sharp Practice Seven Years War project was in action a month or back in our first game, but I've never posted pictures of the unit itself.

Luckner's Hussars were a Hanoverian unit and one of the iconic regiments of the campaign in Western Germany.  They were everywhere and heavily involved in the Kleine Krieg.  The figures are from the Perry Plastic box set of Napoleonic British Hussars.  So yes let's hear it from the button counters and war-games fashion police.  I had the box on hand, and except for the leg wear and shabraques the uniforms are pretty damn close to one another.  So yes officially, the shabraques should have the long swallow tailed corners seen on the officer figure instead of thew smaller saddle blankets seen on the other ranks.  And they should have the tight Hussar breeches with leggings and high boots instead of overalls.  I rationalize both of these by saying a hard run unit would have stripped down to more practical wear.  However, the fur hats, dolman and pelisse look spot on and the poses one gets from these perry figures are marvellous.

I've painted these figures (6 plus officer and trumpeter) in the later uniform, white dolman with red pelisse and fur hat, adopted in 1760.  The earlier uniform had a green dolman and pelisse and a  mirliton or flugelmutze, to use the lovely German term.  It was changed as it was nearly identical to that worn by the mounted members of Fischer's Chasseurs in the opposing French army.

The regiment's colonel Nikolas Luckner is pretty much the poster child for Lace Wars Soldeirs of Future.  A full bio can be found at the excellent Kronoskaf site, but the basics are as follows.

  • Born in the Palatinate, he joined the Bavarian Army and transferred to a Friekorps unit.
  • During the War of Austrian Succession (WAS), the Bavarians rented their army out to the Dutch Republic and Luckner served in the Dutch Army as a member of the Frangipani Hussars
  • At the end of the WAS he resigned from the Bavarian Army, by which time he had acquired a rich Dutch Wife
  • At the start of the Seven Years Was, he raised his regiment of hussars for the Hanoverian army. He served with distinction throughout the SYW but retired in 1763 at the war's end.
  • Late he was approached by the French and Russian armies, and joined the former as a Lieutenant General in 1767.  In 1784 he became a Danish Count and in 1790 a French citizen.
  • Still serving the French at the out break of the Revolution he became a Marshall and lead the Armies of the Rhine and North with success.  His successes were memorialized in a popular tune which later became the Marseillaise.
  • As the revolution got more radical, he was removed from command along with other nobles.  He retired to his estate but came back to Paris asking about his pension and was guillotined during a purge.
You can't make this sh*t up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sharp Practice 2 Thoughts

Curt and I were both planning SP games for this weekend coming, but he got his note out first so mine will wait a week or two.  But the thought process (my brain hurts) made me realize that I had not posted my thought son the rule system following my AAR a few weeks ago.  So here goes.

·         Overall things ran smoothly, and gave a fun game with lots of action.  The system is intuitive and we got into the swing of the play very quickly.  All good stuff.

·         I liked the unit/leader activation system which gave suspense and randomness without being too wacky.  We used cards, but long term I will use poker chips.  I found it hard to adequately shuffle a small hand of cards, much to Stacy’s disgust as he had to take several random event rolls following the appearance of the 3rd command card in a row.  If I don't get my poker chips painted in time (they are fiddly), I'll resort to fanning the cards and letting players choose one at random.

·         Getting the feel of when to use Command Cards will take a bit.  Stacy and Sylvain tended to hold on to them to make sure that units activated on the tiffin card, but I think that both made use of Cards for “Step Out” actions adding movement or prompted activations out of sequence

·         Movement is based on a number of d6s making it random, but that was just fine by me and it worked in practice.  Cavalry take some thought as they need to take a turn to slow down or speed up. 

·         Small arms fire was a snap to get – lots of d6s with simple to remember scores to hit.  We rarely need to resort to a table.  If three men in their 50s don’t need reminders, the system is pretty idiot proof!  Units need to test to stop uncontrolled fire once they start, which is something that we forgot to do.  

·         Artillery fire is also simple and can be deadly (or not).  Stacy cunningly placed his gun on a hill and Sylvain obligingly deployed on a hill in the line of fire.   In retrospect he could have avoided some of the fire by coming down off the hill but that didn’t seem obvious at the time.

·         I liked the differentiation between musket and rifle armed troops, and formed troops vs skirmishers.  Both sides’ skirmishers were effective, but Sylvain unfortunately turned his Jaegers rifles from a plus to minus by moving into close range.

·          Cavalry is brittle and tricky to use, as it should be.  Both players got their hussars into tricky spots where they were shot apart by musketry.  A learning opportunity hopefully!

·         We used a big table that allowed a lot of flexibility on deployment.  It also had the plus of letting both players get familiar with movement and activations before running into the enemy.  A few units on a big table gave a very nice feel.

·         We never got to fisticuffs so I have no idea how well that works!

·         As commented on the SP forum over at the lardies home, there are some unit points costs issues that need to be sorted out.  I went by the points in the book and may have given Stacy an advantage as the Brits seem overpriced.   We can work this out over time. 

Ad in conclusion I can't wait til we go tho the Penninsula with Curt's lads this week and hiope to go to Hesse soon with my SYW lads.