Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Duchess in Memoriam

The Duke of Fromagere stood, head bowed, before the monument. The mass of marble and gilt towered before him; chubby cherubs playing lyres and loosing arrows from little bows. To the side and a step behind the Duke the Archbishop droned an interminable liturgy that echoed around the great baroque cathedral.

It had been twelve months to the day since the Duchess had passed and the unveiling of the great memorial would end the year of official mourning that the Duke had deemed appropriate. Appropriate to the rest of Fromagere of course, excluding his favourite mistress, Catherine, and his second favourite Juliana. And the red headed maid that he insisted bring his breakfast on Sunday mornings.

A gentle touch on the arm brought him back from his thoughts. “Errm now a year has passed,” stammered the Archbishop. “It may be time to find Your Grace a new wife. A man ought not retire to an empty bed.”

“Poor deluded fool”, thought the Duke; but he had a point. Perhaps he ought to take a new wife and a large dowry wouldn’t go amiss. Those Parisian bankers did keep sending debt collectors every couple of months.

That evening the Duke summoned the foreign minister to his palace chambers. "I need a new wife Minister Gaperon; any suggestions?"

Ne're an eyebrow twitched on Gaperon's high brow. After a brief pause he said: "The Countess Dolingen of Gratz has been widowed recently,"


"It's a dangerous world Your Grace."


"She has a nice palace and a lot of land in Styria."

"Bit close to the Emperor."

"Perhaps, I may be so bold. The Countess Wilhelimina may be a perfect choice."

"Have you lost your senses Gaperon," spluttered the Duke. "Apart from the fact that those damned Mittleweins have been our sworn enemies for three hundred years she must be over forty!"

"But still a beauty. Perhaps it's time to make friends with our neighbours. Besides it makes more sense to acquire a bride with land adjacent to Fromagere."

"But her son, the Count. rules Weinpfalz, Gaperon, or had you forgotten?"

"It is a dangerous world, Your Grace. And the Count has no heir."

".... and possibly not too late for the Countess to bear another."

Gaperon was an excellent diplomat and without hesitation answered the seventy year old Duke. "No, Your Grace."

Friday, 30 December 2011

So that was Christmas

...and as usual entailed lots of running about for teenage kids and aged relatives with not much chance of painting or gaming, Ho Hum.

Santa was very kind however with volumes III and IV of Wargaming in History. I'm not much of an ACW buff but I couldn't bear to see I, II, IV on the bookshelves. Touch of OCD probably. Also the man in red provided Osprey's "Battle of Zorndorf". Nasty. The battle not the book. And a couple of nice CDs to paint by: C18 naturally - Haydn and Bach concertoes.

I didn't get nearly enough painted in 2011 nor enough games played so, hopefully, 2012 will be better on those fronts. Mental note not to buy any more figures until etc etc. We all know that mantra.

Although Hat may finally get those marching Prussians into production and 20mm Nostalgic Revival have some very nice new metal to match the Zvezda.

Finally I must get the Wars of Wine and Cheese back on track so a visit to the archives and diaries of Prince Lupus is pressing.

One of the highlights of 2011 was the discovery of "History of Rome dot com". An excellent podcast about - you guessed it - which has kept me informed and amused with 2,000 year old news. As we are now well into the C5th I shall soon need a new diversion - any suggestions?

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

From Dave Beagle

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Rules & BWS

I have been writing up our games at Birmingham Wargames Society on this blog whilst other reports have appeared elsewhere. So BWS have a new blog site where we can consolidate our wargaming story - please follow the link if interested.

The intention is keep this blog for my attempt at creating the world of wine and cheese which I can hopefully (re) kick start over the forthcoming holiday period.

Firstly which rules:

As with many imagineers I started this project with the intention of using the seminal Charge! rules (Young & Lawford) that first revealed to me that playing with toy soldiers didn’t have to end with junior school. A joy just to read but also a simple, fun and subtle set of rules for horse foot and guns.

There is of course a “but” or two about to follow.

Firstly while I love the look of individually based figures it does lead to a lot of messing about. Unfortunately I do not have a permanent wargame space and need to get games over and packed away in less than three hours. I get the impression that the Brigadier may have spent a day or two over his games. Also I am using the lovely Zvezda plastics which even when based on thin steel have a propensity to fall over if the table is nudged.

So the figures are now based up in eights (a firing platoon in Charge). This, of course, leads to the predicament of removing individual figures which I have solved with the use of steel bases and magnetic sheet. Gluing the front rank down and having the second rank on magnetic sheet. Choosing the simple Old Wargames approach of painted bases this doesn’t present too much of an issue. In fact painting the bases the same colour as the wargames table (Wittenburg green) means that you can’t really tell they’re on bases at all. The steel bases do slide easily across the painted MDF too. This does mean that officers and Nco are included in the unit total.

However there is of course the issue of individual cavalry melees. These can be fun but big fights can take an inordinate amount of time. I have therefore decided on new cavalry melee rules based on the old Wargames Holiday Centre Marlburian rules published in a magazine in the early 90’s. Essentially throwing a dice per figure in the front rank and determining total hits from a predetermined number.

Another thing that gives me headaches is the half and halve again after some firing. So while I intend to keep the half casualties at long range I shall adopt the “save” on top half of the dice for targets requiring half effect such as cavalry. While this will balance out over a game it can give more varied results.

Then there is the issue of morale. While the rules as written have the morale built in with regards casualties lost, the use of the 50% rule (ie a unit is fine at 51% but not at 49%) does mean that the point at which a unit will withdraw can, sometimes, be easily judged. Also, following a melee the loser will withdraw, very civilized but I would prefer an option to rout too. Finally one point I don’t like is that a charge cannot be stopped by fire. It can lead to a situation where a cavalry charge on an infantry unit can take a lot of punishment going in and get well beaten in melee and still leave the infantry in a disordered state that has to withdraw. There are many examples of cavalry being stopped short by steady volleys.

So, I’m going to try out the following morale tests. Firstly for units whose losses exceed 50% a dice throw (following firing) less casualties taken above half the original unit strength, a resulting score of 0 or less means withdraw as per rules, a pass allows the unit to carry on. Secondly for units charging in a couple of dice thrown less casualties taken during the charge a resulting score of 0 or less means withdraw before contact. Finally a throw of one or two dice for the loser (one if understrength) less the difference in melee casualties: a resulting score of 0 or less means rout otherwise withdraw as per the rules.

Hopefully I’ll be able to give these a whirl over Christmas. Calls for port and stilton methinks.