Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Odd time of year

...between Christmas and New Year is always an odd time of year. I usually go into work but the past few months have been so busy I thought "*** it," I'll have the week off.

Naturally I was hoping to paint for the December unit is way behind schedule Of course Christmas has got in the way, visiting, eating, visiting, drinking, visiting, eating etc etc. Also new books in one's stocking. I received "Slaughterhouse Five" which I hadn't read since a student - so that was Christmas evening sorted (with a nice Stilton and glass of port). Even better than I remembered.

Today however I was rebasing Napoleonics and 6mm to boot. I think the fourth rebasing that these guys have been on. Now on regimental bases of two inches square, quite a change from Charge!. A couple of corps in an A4 lever arch box file! Piccies will follow once complete.

Even worse I was perusing Plastic Soldier Review and the Impetus site whilst digesting another ample lunch. Mmmm interesting; now what period/continent have we not tried? And there was a review of Zvezda Samurai. Very pretty too and a 9/10 review from PSR. Perhaps a little look at ebay wouldn't hurt, Aaaaaaarggggghhh caught again. Now I wonder if Amazon has an Osprey on XVI century Japan, 'cos I don't have a clue.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas begins

The family tradition, when I was a child, was that the Christmas tree and decorations would only begin to appear after December 13 - dad's birthday. This year was the old man's eightieth so the great day has taken up even more of our thoughts than usual. And began with a game of golf on a frosty Saturday morning!

Today we made our way to Birmingham to visit the Frankfurt market! Odd but true.
Gluhwein and pretzels in the English Midlands.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Bunker Hill (again and again)

Unfortunately my camera has gone awol so no piccies of a fun afternoon with Birmingham Wargamers.

General Jimbo set up a very nice interpretation of Bunker Hill terrain so with 15mm armies and a set of Volley and Bayonet we set about changing history.

We began the first game at 14:45. The main force of red coated Brits advanced manfully through the disordering terrain ignoring the inaccurate fire of the light guns in the redoubt. The British grenadiers and light troops moved around the flank of hill.

14:55 hours - two British regiments assault the corner of the redoubt to bring two line units against one militia. With a morale rating of 5 only a throw of 6 could fail; of course Jim throws two 6s. With sterling defensive throws against the now disordered red coats the initial attack is repulsed. On the rebels' left the fire of the Grenadiers and light troops prove ineffectual. The militia however prove to be good marksman and the Grenadiers take casulaties.

15:00 hours - two more British regiments charge forward to assault the redoubt, only a throw of 6 on their morale test could prevent a break in on the redoubt - Jim throws... two sixes. The melee goes with the yankees and two more red coated regiments are routed. Derisive laughter can be heard from behind the breastwork. The grenadiers also charge and push back one of the brave colonial units but do not break them.

15:10 hours - An heroic militia regiment charges into the flank of the Grenadiers and with musketry support destroy the already weakened Brits

15:15 hours - Game Over

At this point we usually set up again and swap sides - however Richard and Jim are determined to reverse the embarrassing performance. Red Coats and Red Faces.

Always funny to see four consecutive morale failures. Quote of the day paraphrased from Dame Edna; "God has given me the gift of laughter ... at other peoples' misfortune."

The next game lasted a little longer as the Brits manoeuvred onto the flanks and blasted the poor colonials with well aimed musketry and long range artillery before charging in. Even the rebels gave a good account themselves before being overrun.

We agreed to swap sides for the third and final game.This led to much manoeuvering and hanging about by the Brits who hoped for better results from a thin skirmish line and a couple of cannon. Eventually a charge from one side of the redoubt managed to rout the weak and weakened militia. Equilibrium was restored.

Today's cheese was a very tasty Caerphilly.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Sunday

A drizzly grey morning for the annual procession up the High Street to our local cenotaph. Led by a bagpiper and a couple of drummers the procession was the largest I can remember. While the ranks of veterans from WW2 and Korea progressively thin the general populace feel the need to pay their tribute to the fallen of more recent wars as well as the C20th conflicts.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


September was not a good painting month so I decided to make more of an effort in October.

When I started this project in June my aim was a, reasonable, unit a month. At the end of October I am back on target having completed the infantry regiment started in September and also a couple of batteries of artillery.

I purchased a couple of Strelets GNW boxes which were a bit of a disappointment. So after a quick visit to Plastic Soldier Review I went out and bought a box of Zvezda GNW artillery. The artillery men were much, much nicer, although I did have to stick some arms on. Even with my lack of dexterity it didn't prove too difficult and I have managed to prise my fingers apart. The first piccie shows Alpha Battery of Fromagere in the purple personally chosen by Duchess Sophia, with largest gun in the Zvezda box, a six pounder. The gun itself is a nice model though a bit fiddly to put together (yes I am major klutz so it's probably not really) and I am a bit concerned as to it's ability to stand up the rigours of wargaming.

The Strelets artillery men were not very good figures but the guns themselves are a doddle to push together and a nicely robust. Not the most accurate replicas of C18 cannon being a bit chunky but I like their generic "cannony" look and are certainly tough enough to stand up to being knocked about to and from wargame tables. The artillerymen of Fromagere man a battery of Strelets cannon above. There are only two cannon per box however.

The Zvezda box may be twice as expensive (in our local model shop anyway) but you do get a lot of nice artillery men, five cannon as well as a limber and horses. If I was hypercritical the cannon aren't the most useful for wargamers feeling a little fragile and also three of the guns are "gallopers", very light cannon pulled by one horse. The other two are a heavier six pounder and a nice howitzer. While neither The Wargame nor Charge discriminate between heavy and light artillery I think I might introduce this to our games, possibly giving a regiment or two a battalion gun.

Left shows a Weinpfalz artillery officer lining up a light galloper gun. Nicely modelled as all Zvezda seem to be.

On a slightly larger front my Great Northern Army has gained an artillery piece. I think cannon and crew are courtesy of Front Rank and very nice they are too, painted by Jim of course.

We're not quite sure what rules to use for these yet, with Impetus Baroque being mooted.
I'm not convinced with that idea yet.

Whilst I am back up to speed with my one unit a month target I am well underway with "November's" unit already.

Half painted Revell SYW dragoons charge across the painting desk in Castle Vallejo. They will be the first mounted unit of Weinplfalz.

Oh - I also purchased a couple of boxes of Hat Prussian Hussars 1806 which look emminently suitable for the wars of the mid C18. Hopefully I can get these painted up sharpish and get these guys in the field.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The New Bridge

Not since the rape of the Palatine by Tilley had there been a bridge over the Weinbach, which suited both the Duke Fromagere and Count Otto of Mittelwein. For this little river was the natural border between bitter enemies WeinPfalz and Fromagere and trade and communication between the two was negligible.

However following the death in battle of Otto in 1709 the pleasant water meadows and the town of Spatlesse were seized by the forces of Fromagere on a misty morning in early autumn. The only casualty being Mayor Traubensaft who was summarily hanged after hitting the colonel of the Camembert Cuirassiers with his ceremonial mace.

In anticipation of having to relinquish his prize fairly quickly Duke Reynard hesitated and then forgot to improve communications with his new enclave over the river. For over twenty five years the only way to transport goods and livestock into and out of Spatlesse was by the little foot ferry.

During the campaign of 1735 however a harassed clerk in the war ministry misread a request from General Mozzarella and sent a company of pontonniers to Spatlesse. Once there they did as pontonniers do and within a couple of days a fine bridge was awaiting an army to cross it. At Spatburg a very irate colonel of chevaux-legers was getting his feet wet.

In Weinstadt, after a good breakfast, the war council convened. Undoubtedly Fromagere was preparing to attack. And the best form of defence is..


Monday, 28 September 2009

Indian Summer

Summer 2009 was looking like being a bit of a washout but September has proved to be a glorious month. Unfortunately, while I have been walking the dog, golfing and gathering in the harvest, wargames and more specifically painting have taken a bit of a back seat.

However winter draws on, as my grandma used to say, and the dark nights will be filled with the clatter of dice and the splash of paint. A nice little radiator has been installed in Castle Vallejo (aka my shed) although I do need to invest in a couple of daylight bulbs. A necessity for tired old eyes particularly after a day staring at a spreadsheet.

At the weekend I made the mistake of buying a couple of boxes of Strelets Great Northern War artillery before checking out Plastic Soldier R
eview. Not the best figures I have ever seen. Perhaps the heads will prove useful. I also got a couple of boxes of Zvesda GNW Swedes which look splendid and who will make up the main infantry units of the Duchy of Fromagere. Looks like I’m going to need eight boxes to get five decent looking regiments. Unfortunately there are only three grenadiers to a box.

A while ago we started a “real” Great Northern War project but this is still a work in progress as so few of the range we chose have been completed. After two years still no officers to go with the nicely painted privates. (NB I have my mate Jim to thanks for the lovely paint job)

Russian Guard awaiting sand and flock.

I’m not a great watcher of TV but I did catch Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour in which he follows in the footsteps of many a young Englishman of the Eighteenth Century in their search for culture (amongst other things) in Italy. Interesting to note what an impact the young British tourists were having on the Med even then! I think it was John Humphries who said that Brian Sewell is the only person who could make the Queen sound common.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Regiment Spatburgunder

Weinpfalz almost has it's second regiment of foot.

The Regiment Spatburgunder just needs a little furtle and it will be battle ready.
I find painting over 50 figures a go quite tedious and also a literal pain in the neck. But I set myself the reasonable target of one unit a month and after ten weeks I have two regiments and one half done. I think an artillery battery might be next though.

Regiment Spatburgunder in line.
A while ago I lost "The Wargame" by Charles Grant to a wargame friend who promptly left the country. "C'est la Brie" as they say in Fromagere. However good old Amazon came up trumps last week with a second hand copy for £10.00 from a library in southern England.

While I am a "Charge o phile" The Wargame is a good read full of lovely OSW piccies and an idea or two I might adopt to fill out the lack of morale rules in Charge.
Also in the last week I have received some nice samples of Wodensfeld Seven Years War figures from John Cunningham of Vintage 20mil. Not true 20mm more like 24mm and anatomically realistic.

I have just given it a quick paint job to show it compared to a Revell of the Spatburgunder Regiment (with a Musketeer Miniature GNW Russian as a comparison to "28mm").
Almost a perfect match. Unfortunately only French infantry at the moment but there are 36 poses in the range.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Things get Shorter....

... and a little later.

Contrary to popular belief today was in fact 2 December 1805. And that can only mean one thing - Austerlitz. (Most of it anyway)

Ironic quotes of the day :

Napoleon: "How long will it take you to move your divisons to the top of the Pratzen Heights?"
Soult: "Less than twenty minutes Sire..."

Using simple rules derived from Volley and Bayonet, DBA, 2 by2 etc we expect to reach a conclusion within three hours.

Looking from the north.

In the foreground V Corps under Lannes cross the stream and begin to climb the Zuran while a light cavalry division has crossed the stream.

On the left Liechtenstien moves his heavy cavalry divisions forward past Blaswitz. Beyond Bernadotte and Soult perpare to cross the Goldbach while the French Guard and heavy cavalry reserve wait patiently. The Pratzen Heights swarm with Russkies and Austrians and the Guard lie behind.

Lannes outflanking maneouvre moves on apace unaware that Bagration is about to appear on table.

The Pratzen heights early in the morning

Bagration moves forward, courtesy of a giant hand. Despite early success the French light cavalry can make no impressionon the Russian heavy cavalry divisions. While...

the French Reserve waits patiently.

Bored with Soult's inabilty to break through Bernadotte crosses the Bosenitz stream.

Not French cheerleaders but the devastating effect of Russian heavy batteries upon Lannes infantry. Red is not good.

Liechtenstein's heavy cavalry unleashed upon disordered French hussars of Bernadotte.
Oh Dear! poor old Kellerman division is ridden down.
Beyond Bernadotte's infantry share the suffering.

The inability of the French to even reach the Pratzen means that the Reserve is not activated.
Consequently the lack of heavy cavalry to combat the devastating Russian cuirassiers leads to the units disordered by artillery fire becoming sitting ducks to the big men on horses and are wiped out piecemeal.
History is changed and Napoleon returns to Corsica to run a small corner shop. Oh the irony.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A Short Interlude

If you consider 15mm to be short.

The Battle of Moselle (July 2009) was a thinly disguised Lobositz (1756) scenario using Volley and Bayonet rules.

Three Allied columns advanced down from the hills to face a French force stretching from the walled farmland on their right across the valley to the marshy stream. A Saxon force held the village of Sullowitz and a Reichsarmee force was behind the stream.

The Allies outnumbered the French by about 15% in base numbers but almost all bases were one strength point stronger and their morale one or two points better.

On the hill British light dragoon swept aside French Hussars with ease. Generaljimbo commanding the French prophesied that it looked like it was to be a quick game. The foot however could make little impression on the French behind the stone walls.

On the Allied right the Prussians did not hesitate in attacking the village held by the Saxons although the artillery proved ineffective even at short range. Two well placed dragoon regiments threatened any possible Reichsarmee movement over the stream.
In the centre the British pressed on. Too quickly it proved as both their batteries were lost to enemy light cavalry before even unlimbering. The British cavalry charged forward and pushed back the French horse but with little damage done to either. There proved to be no movement into the resultant hole however and Louis' horsemen rallied and the British repelled with heavy losses.

The hole in the centre was swiflty plugged as the Allies attacked along the line - but to little effect. In fact the French (as stationary troops) were dishing out a lot of punishment as 6 followed 6.

Almost simultaneously the morale of the Prussians and the British centre collapsed and the red and blue swept back whence they came.

The outflanking movement on the hill proved too little too late and against the odds the French had won a famous victory. Generaljimbo's prophesy proved to be correct but not quite as expected.
(photos courtesy of Generaljimbo, honorary captain of the Black Tower)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Riesling Regiment

The first regiment of MittelWeinPfalz is almost complete. The regiments of WeinPfalz will of course be either red or white with perhaps a Rose Hussars regiment. As you can see they are Revell plastic 1/72 (Austrian SYW). I pondered for a while as to what figures to use for this project. There are some absolutely splendid figures available to the wargamer now, Front Rank, Foundry, Minden etc. However I have always had a fear of beautiful figures because I am a dreadful painter. I can be neat (given time) but I do feel that these figures deserve better and occasionally I have been fortunate to get a friend to paint some 28mms for me. The ease with which Jim produces little masterpieces makes me despair of my own skills even more.

Of course I couldn’t ask him to paint up a couple of dozen regiments fit for Charge! which would be about 1200 figures. I looked at professional painters and at around £8 to £10 per figure I thought I might have better things to do with twelve grand, if I had it, which I don’t.

I used to have a lot of Spencer Smith plastic and had some fun with them and I bought a few of the new metal figures from SSM. They were okay and not too expensive, about £30 for a regiment. Garrison and RSM looked pretty good too. Coincidentally however I came across a couple of really nice blogs that were creating armies using plastic 1/72 and on the same day I was in my local model shop when the discussion came round to my choice of figures; he showed me a box of Revell Austrian Infantry at £3.50 a box. He had six left. I could buy 6 boxes of 48 men for £21.00 – nearly 300 men. Of course I bought the lot. On further examination I discovered that almost all were useable and would give me enough figures for 5 regiments. That’s most of one army’s foot.

They were nice figures, you could see what they were meant to be but there wasn’t too much detail to get bogged down on. I wouldn’t get hung up if I didn’t paint in the grenadiers earrings. I planned to adopt the three feet rule, ie what do you see when they are the table and get the damned things done as quickly as spare time allowed. Now the first unit is almost done I am not unpleased with the result and the next unit can only get better. Once a couple of small armies have been knocked out in plastic I intend to start filling in with some metal. Not sure what yet – any suggestions?

And while I’m at it does anyone recognise the figure on the left of photo one. It’s a true 25mm and thinner than the usual. It says RN7 on the base and I would guess that it’s a French Revolutionary figure of the 1790’s (but could be 1780’s). The middle figure is a Garrison and I think the other if minifigs.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Conscription Begins

The years of respite since 1709 seem to have erased the memories of war.

1 January 1735
Mobilisation begins at the Castle Vallejo.

Within it's ancient walls troops recalled to their colours are rewarded with splendid uniforms.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


As a child I spent my weekly sixpence pocket money on a toy soldier, US cavalry, second world war infantryman, cowboy, sometimes a knight. With friends, father or often alone I would line them up and fight mini battles on my bedroom floor. There must have been hundreds - I wonder what happened to them all.

Of course teenagers don't play with toy soldiers do they? But when I found "Charge! or How to Play Wargames" in the local library (between chess and football) it was a revelation. Playing with toy soldiers didn't have to end with primary school and short trousers. But of course other things got in the way, music, girls, football etc etc. And despite attempts at painting up an army of airfix, and later Spencer Smith's plastics I never actually got round to playing a game using Charge rules. And yet every so often I would pore over the games and friendly banter of Mr Smith and Mr Jones as described by messrs Young and Lawford (I actually bought the library copy for 20p).

Wargaming didn't go away and University provided a few opponents mostly in the revolutionary new, cheap, easily stored 6mm. Later Birmingham Wargames Society provided a friendly place to fight. Keeping up to date with the latest innovations armies appeared and grew and were sold, rules came and went 10mm, 15mm, 20mm. WRG, RFCM, Volley and Bayonet, Crossfire, Impetus, we tried them all. But none had what Charge! had. Je ne sais quois?

But now, courtesy of internetland, I find I'm not alone in this mini obsession with a 1967 games book.

This blog is my incentive to creating two armies and two imagi nations to fight table top games in the manner of messrs Young and Lawford. The nations are Fromagere and Weinpfalz; the Wars of Wine and Cheese.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Wars of Wine and Cheese

A brief history of The Duchy of Fromagere and the Counties of Weinpfalz


The branches of the family tree of European royalty and nobility cross and scrape like a badly pruned thorn. No more was this friction felt than between the rulers of the neighbouring lands of Fromagere and Weinpfalz.

Exhausted by the wars of religion the fortunate geography and hardworking population of Fromagere ensured that their towns, churches and palaces were rebuilt swiftly. Silver livres, gold marks and pounds sterling rolled in as the barges full of butter and cheese made their way up the navigable Rhine. The flower of Baroque bloomed magnificently in the principle city of Roquefort and more than one Bach enjoyed the massive organ of its cathedral.

The three counties Of Lower, Middle and Upper Weinpfalz however found the latter half of the seventeenth century less fruitful. With many vineyards abandoned in the thirty years war combined with the sudden popularity of beer the wine business was not flourishing. Not until the wars against Louis XIV did Weinpfalz discover its most profitable business – mercenaries. The hardy little men bred in the harsh hills proved indomitable soldiers and soon found favour in the armies of Marlborough and Eugene. At the beginning of 1709 one in five of the adult male population were under arms by the end of 1709 one in five of the adult male population were under the Flanders soil. The body of Count Mittelwein was borne home on the one remaining gun carriage and the beautiful Countess Wilhelmina became Regent to her one year old son.

Not one to miss an opportunity the sly Duke of Fromagere thought this an ideal opportunity to annex the border town of Spatlesse and it’s rather pleasant water meadows that lay across the Weinbach, the natural border between Fromagere and Weinpfalz. His attempts at annexing Wilhelmina were less successful.

As always only a generation passed before the drums of war rolled along the Rhine Valley and old warhorse Eugene recalled the marshal nature of the Weiners. Once again Imperial gold rolled into the coffers and the little army of Weinpfalz marched along the roads of Europe. March and counter march, but little fighting ensued and while the soldiers trained the young Count, along with Erbprinz of Prussia, followed in the wake of Eugene listening and learning. And once, from the tower of Wachausel espied the standard of Fromagere amongst the ranks of the French enemy.

In 1735 most of the soldiers returned home, Lorraine was given to Stanislas and a new king crowned in Poland.