Der Resin Kavalier

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Projects from Old Ideas

The Wars of Franconian Succession

In an earlier post I mentioned in passing an "Imaginations" project I called the War of Franconian Succession. Originally inspired by Henry Hyde's War of Faltenian Succession, it began a chain of events that led me to this point. Several years ago, I found my interest revived of using 54 mm figures for war gaming with the discovery, quite by chance, of Ken Cliffe's All the King's Men website. This was around 2013/2014 when the bicentennial of the War of 1812 was being hardly remembered here in the US and probably celebrated by our good friends in Canada. This led to the build up and painting of  small (about half a dozen units each) armies to try out this new interest of mine. Later, the whole project was put on indefinite hold as our club started getting very much involved with the Chain of Command WW2 rules--armies needed to be raised!

Well, after purchasing a couple of ATKM's Hessian musketeers and a unit of grenadiers, the seed was planted, only to be diverted into the American War of Independence (AWI), the subject of several posts on this blog. So what about Franconia?

Perusing my copy of John Mollo's Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63 (ISBN 0-88254-444-6), now sadly out of print, I became increasing interested in the smaller states, and their Kreis regiments. Each uniform was unique but broadly defined as being in the Austrian or Prussian style. Further research using the Pengel books gave me more details, but what about standards? Easily taken care of! There is a firm in Barcelona, Spain, called Adolfo Ramos Flags, with whom I have done a great deal of business over the last few years (highly recommended both for their quality and fast service). In their listings of SYW standards, there was Franconia and flags for all three of its Kreis regiments. The uniforms were Prussian in cut, and flags were available. What's not to like? So, the War of Franconian Succession was conceived.

My first units will be Saxon (or in this case, Thuringian), along with some Franconian. I've attached a couple of pictures below showing my initial efforts (using BTW HaT's SYW Prussians). As the project moves along, I'll post more information and reports.

Perhaps next time I'll provide the imagined history of the War that Never Was, except in the wonderful world of imagination.

Saxon Fusilier Regiment Rochow

Saxon Regiment Sachsen-Gotha

Saxon Regiment Prinz Maximilian

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix: Lessons learned

Those who have been following along in this blog will know by now that I am a fan of simple rules such as Charge! In a way it has been a full circle for me. Years ago, my old friend Tom and I started out our "formal" war gaming (i.e. with rules) in high school with Jack Scruby's Fire and Charge, simple with lots of dice rolling. From there, I tried and discarded many sets of rules such as the many iterations of the WRG Ancients, Column, Line and Square (still played with a group of local gamers on a regular basis), Fire and Fury, WRG "whatever", and many more. Who knew back then that a revolution was beginning?

A wise gamer observed this past week-end (as we discussed the Charge! rules), that those who know the tactics of the era as opposed to all the rules, actually do better in the game. Think about that for a moment. Isn't that what really makes a good set of rules? The scenario was set up as a straight forward attacker/defender. With the exception of a stone wall and a artillery redoubt, the terrain was pretty much open, save for two woods, and a bridged river.

Now, like any war gamer who sets up a game, I had a pretty good idea of how I would have played it. Speed was essential for the Royalists in order for them to bring their slightly better firepower against the Federation. Perhaps more importantly a key advantage the RC had would be hand-to-hand combat. Under the rules, the Federation, about a third of whose troops were militia and/or lacking bayonets which put them at a -1 disadvantage in all melee die rolls. In the rules, such combats are relatively quick affairs with the results decided pretty much after the first (and usually only) round.

A piecemeal attack was not going to bring the Federation to defeat, but unfortunately, that's what occurred.
The highpoint of the Royalist advance
Another view of the battle

So, how do we make this a better game? The rules allow for two options regarding how the units move and deploy. For simplicity, I used the alternate move system (side a moves a brigade, then side b, and so on). The other, one with which I am well-acquainted, is written orders. Column, Line, and Square, the classic Napoleonic rule set beginning in the 1960's uses them and there are some of us left who play the game regularly. Next time, written orders, using simple graphics to show what the unit was to do.

The biggest errors on my side were making two assumptions. This was a convention game whose rules, though simple, were unfamiliar to most of the participants. A brief tutorial may not be enough. Secondly was the troop density. I had six players signed up, most of whom I did not know. How many units could they handle? Three per player was my baseline. That was now I think too many.

Ah well...everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoyed the rules. That I think is the main goal. I am happy to see it was accomplished.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix, Part 2

The Hessians were bogged down on the Royalist right, one of the British brigades was slogging through the woods on the left. Meanwhile in the center, the British advance was slow, even tentative one might say. Casualties had been remarkably light so far on the Federation side, in part because of the Hessian gun deciding to displace and found itself in the Hessian traffic jam.
Hessian troops continue a slow advance across the bridge. the lead unit has just decided to detach a company into the woods.

An overview of the British assault in the center. Although the Federation militia behind the wall has taken serious casualties, they have been ably supported on their flanks.

The Hessian gun has displaced, only to fall behind leading units.

At this point, the Royalists were stalled and beginning to take some serious casualties. The Jagers were first to fall back, followed by the Regiment Erbprinz. The British grenadiers were still trying to get through the woods, and the 4th Foot was taking more casualties than they were inflicting. As the evening was getting late, there was a silent though mutual agreement that the Royalists had shot their bolt and further attacks would be futile. 

So, darkness fell on St. Croix, both sides too exhausted to continue the least until next time.

In my next installment, I talk about the rules, and lessons learned.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix, Part 1

Following an increase in tensions between the Royalist Coalition (RC) and the newly formed Federation of United Provinces (FUP), both sides began preparations for a prolonged campaign to determine, once and for all, what nation/coalition would dominate the northeastern lands and islands of North America.

Skirmishes became more frequent as raid and counter-raid, escalated into small engagements between regular forces (see the 22 June 2018 posting on this blog). Now, having forced the British contingent of the RC to cede a critical crossing point to the Federation's advance guard, the Federation decided to push forward, and in doing so, breach the St. Croix River Line. The Coalition forces stole a march and caught the right wing of the invading Federation troops, who forewarned by superior intelligence (or more likely a few well-placed gold coins), formed their line and waited.

Meanwhile, the Royalist forces began their deployment, hampered by the need for the Hessian brigade on the RC's left to cross a small tributary of the St. Croix River. This would turn out to have more than a few consequences.  The right and most of the center was covered by a strong British division of two brigades. Speed and audacity would be needed for enough pressure to be brought on the Federation to give time for the Hessians to make themselves felt.

The contest was about to begin!
For reasons unknown to this observer, things began to go wrong for the RC almost at once.
The right hand brigade of the British advanced slowly, moving through the small woods on the right. In the center, a desultory skirmish fire by the British Lights and Hessian Jagers proved ineffective. An opportunity arose to bring a critical wall manned only by militia under fire, whether missed or squandered will forever be unknown. Likewise the advance in the center slowed, and indecision seemed the culprit. The lead Hessian elements sought the perceived safety of the small woods just across the river, but the irregular ground and tangled brush slowed them to a crawl. Units began to back up. A crisis loomed... and the Americans of the Federation just waited...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Back from Huzzah!

Well, Huzzah 2019 is over and, as in years past, it was both exhilarating and exhausting. I picked up Tom my good friend of many decades about 1030 Friday morning. Arriving in south Portland about two hours later, we enjoyed lunch at a local brew pub (a favorite), and later checked in to the hotel.
I was not scheduled for any games on Friday, so most of the remaining afternoon and evening was spent catching up with old friends, both in the main hall and the bar. I've often said this was the most enjoyable part of any convention. I've yet to be proven wrong.

Saturday was a busy day. I had volunteered to help at the registration table from 0900 to 1200 which took up the morning. Afterwards I helped Tom set up his Northwest Frontier game scheduled for the 1400 to 1800 time block. A couple of pictures are shown below:

The photos show the fort held by the British near Chitral. Although it was a near run thing, I think Lt. Hartley and the Brits held.
These photos are various views of the British cantonment at Chitral, and under siege by local tribesmen.

My afternoon was spent with Ross, my Canadian friend, and several others using Ross' Mac Duff rules as we tried to capture a strategic village and wagon train from the forces of Rosmark. We were not quite successful, but it was a lot of fun!

 The above picture shows the opening as we attempted to pull off a surprise attack on the camps of the Rosmark cavalry as they slept. Alas the alertness of the light infantry prevented us from pulling it off. Driving them back, we advanced, but they were quicker and got away!

Tomorrow, I'll finish up with my contribution: The Battle of St. Croix, using the Charge! rules. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Off to Huzzah!

Off to Huzzah!

The last few days have been a bit hectic. In my last post I mentioned how I had tested the scenario I'm running at Huzzah! this coming Saturday evening. The scenario was good, but the modifications I had tried threw the balance off considerably. Someday I will learn (once again) that tinkering with rules, especially those with a long history, will more likely than not, lead to unintended consequences and usually not for the better. So, it's back to pretty much the original Charge! rules, with only a couple of modifications, none of which should affect the overall game.

The Baron pondering still another instance of his realization that the obvious is all too often so obvious as to be overlooked.

I did mention hectic. One of my other changes had to do with the organization of forces and units. Originally when I started this 54 mm project back in 2015, I organized my troops in the manner outlined in Ken Cliffe's rules, All The King's Men. Those not familiar with these should know that line units were twelve rankers, and two others: a commander and an ensign (or drummer). Lights had six rankers, and two others. While this worked for Charge!, I wanted to get closer to the original organization, which was a command element, and three companies. Depending on the addition, companies were anywhere from 6 to 16 figures, plus command. Size was determined by the type of company. In my version, I've settled on 6-8 men, along with an officer and drummer. But, since most of the units in the American Revolution were comparatively smaller than most European armies of the day, I felt I was on solid ground. It also meant that I was painting up additional officers and drummers, along with a few rankers.

Well, come Saturday, "we'll see..." as my father used to say. My next post will be after Huzzah, along with some pictures. Will the Royalists or the United Province be victorious?

We'll see...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Getting Ready for Huzzah!

Getting Ready For Huzzah!

Here in New England, perhaps the premiere (at least in my opinion) regular convention is Huzzah!, put on by the Maine Historical Wargames Association (MHWA) in mid-May. It's coming up in about three weeks in South Portland, ME. From May 17-19, gamers from both the northeast and nearby Canadian provinces will get together, play games, and renew old friendships (and even make a few new ones!). There will be vendors, raffles, and even a flea market, so you might just pick up a bargain, or better still, find those figures you wanted, but waited too late to get.

This year my contribution is a slightly modified Charge! game, using most of the 54's you've seen in earlier posts. Recent experience, that being a scenario I set up on one of my group's (OCW) regular Thursday evening get together, showed a few things that needed to be changed. Likewise, one rule I hoped to use had to be discarded as it badly unbalanced the game. Others may yet be modified but overall, the concept was sound. 

So, if you go to Huzzah!, stop by and say hello. My game is Saturday evening, starting about 7:00, as the Federated and United Provinces defend against the aggressions of the Royalist Coalition. (Or, the Royalist Coalition, fights a defensive action against the land grabbing provincials who fancy themselves a nation).