Der Resin Kavalier

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, the British were initially outnumbered by nearly two to one. Von Riedesel and the Brunswick contingent  were off-board and required to remain so until at least turn three. The Continentals were presented with an opportunity to bring superior numbers to bear against Hamilton's Brigade. With that in mind, the American Commander began a rapid advance to close with and hopefully drive back Hamilton before the Royalist reinforcements could make their presence felt. But that was not the only problem the Americans faced.

The American forces advance against Hamilton's Brigade. The Brunswick contingent can be seen in the upper right. The American skirmishers near the artillery piece are the LOD figures I wrote of in an earlier blog.

Under the AWI variant of the Charge! rules, the lack of bayonets among the Continentals and Militia would produce a significant disadvantage (-1 to melee die rolls) should they enter into hand-to-hand combat (melee). Generally, a difference of 2 or better on each die roll was needed to win the combat. Thus a Continental in combat with a British Regular would need to roll, let's say, a five  (5-1=4) in order to win against the Regular rolling a two (2). Melee is generally figure to figure.

About half of the American force was without bayonets.

Things were going fairly well for the Continentals...until turn 3. At that point, Von Riedesel came on between the redoubt and Hamilton.

Von Riedesel arrives! Now the battle became a one of attrition.

 From that moment on it became a firefight, with a couple of melees thrown in. Hamilton was eventually driven back, but the casualties among the Americans were mounting and the advance was halted as a number of units were forced to fall back. Tactically, the battle was a draw. Strategically, Burgoyne's campaign was stopped, and the rest as they say, is history.

The final positions--it's now a stalemate as neither side has the strength to advance.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, Part 1

Freeman's Farm: Preparation and Opening Moves

For those of us of a certain age, Young and Lawford's Charge! Or How to Play Wargames, was the holy grail as far as many of us were concerned. They were a relatively simple set, with both an "Elementary Game" and an "Advanced Game" sections. Many of the innovations we have seen in gaming had their roots here.

But time went on and new ideas, procedures, and eras proliferated.  It made the late 1960's and early 1970's and even into the 80's a veritable crucible of new and better ways of doing things...or so we thought. Things got more complex. Was it really better? That is a loaded question. For me...well it's been a mixed result. I've gone from simple to complex and finally back to simple. At my age simple is better!

Freeman's Farm is a return to my roots: toy soldiers, simple rules, and lots of dice. The scenario was simple: the Americans needed to drive Hamilton's Brigade off the table. Von Riedsel could arrive with his Brunswickers (cleverly disguised as Hessians) any time after turn four. Once that occurred, Frasier's Brigade in its redoubt would be allowed to actively move in support of the Royal forces. It was a race. Initially, the Americans under Morgan and Poor had an almost 2:1 superiority in numbers (not quality, however).

Morgan and Poor begin their advance. Frasier's Redoubt can be seen in the upper right
Off-board Movement: On the map given to both sides, there was a series of blocks. Each block required a full move to pass through before finally moving onto the table. The Germans were required to spend the first two turns in a "strategic reserve". Starting turn 3, they could begin to move toward the game table. The earliest they could arrive was turn 4, the latest (if they tried come on the flank) would be turn 6. Does one come on early, through a limiting space behind the British, or be more daring, and come on either the left of right flank forcing the Americans to face a fresh and relatively strong force of German Regulars?

Hamilton's Brigade awaits. Freeamn's Farm is just behind them
Frasier's Redoubt

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Basic Training (Sort of...)

Forming a New Regiment

In the last couple of installments, I reviewed some recent acquisitions produced by LOD (see link in previous postings). A minor criticism was the variety of poses that came with each set (16 figures, 8 poses). While absolutely outstanding for skirmish level games, many of us prefer our units to consist of the same pose, save of Officers, NCO's, Drummers, and the like. One reader went so far as to contact Ken (of LOD) about the possibility of producing sets of the same pose. I am happy to report, that he didn't say no...or yes for that matter. But hope prevails!

Today, however, I would like to talk about raising (painting) new regiments for our armies. Now, many of us belong to gaming clubs or have a few friends with which we carry on on miniature recreations of history. And so we plan games, draw maps, and collect the troops to be used in the scenario...and inevitably find that if we had just one more of this or that, things would be better. So frantically, we paint those few figures we want, and field them with the varnish only recently dried. At least that is what I found just be a recent Thursday night game with my local club (Old Colony Wargamers). I'll be publishing that battle report shortly.

But, at the same time after a game, I find myself inspired to paint up something new and perhaps make a dent into the many figures I have sitting in boxes awaiting the brush (a common situation for anyone who been wargaming for years...and years).

Below are two units just recently primed (yesterday) and soon to be painted. Both will become part of my AWI British contingent.  I am also trying something new by using Model Master (tm) Enamel primer, instead of my more frequent Acrylic type by the same company. The original switch was unintentional (I ordered the wrong type from my hobby supplier), since I have used water-based paints for some twenty-five years now. But I do kind of like the enamel. It covers well, provides a smooth semi-gloss surface that takes acrylics very well. Unlike water based primers, which sometimes leaves bare spots indicating areas you missed when washing off the release agent, these cover everything and ultimately saves time, although I have also found they take a bit longer to cure. The units are a RA light howitzer section and a British Foot Regiment (I haven't quite decided which one yet). Both are produced by IMEX whose figures I highly recommend. As they are completed, I'll post some pictures.
IMEX RA artillery crew with a light howitzer

The Colonel supervising the swordsmanship of the new company commanders 

The RSM working with the recruits, along with a drummer trying to be as inconspicuous as possible!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Militia Reinforcements!

A Look at LOD Militia

In the last iteration of this blog, I discussed the figures produced by LOD (see link from previous post), focusing on the Continental Light Infantry. Today I would like to take a look at their Militia.
As far as I know, only two manufacturers produce figures specifically as militia: LOD (which we'll look at today) and IMEX, (which I will do if there is any interest).

Some of the IMEX militia can be seen in action in my posts from Huzzah! 2019 this past May. Both lines look sufficiently militia like, although their dress favors the Northern Colonies as they are for the most part too heavily clothed for the Deep South.

Like the Light Infantry, their animation is top notch. As I stated in the previous post, if you are one who wants a unit all looking the same, be prepared to buy several bags! If you are in to small unit actions, these are the figures you would want! Not only are the poses well-executed, but the facial expressions add to their quality. Several of these guys I would not want to meet in a dark alley! (Metaphorically speaking, of course).

The plastic used is a semi-hard material, more rigid that either IMEX or AIP (Armies in Plastic), and as such require very little prep prior to priming and painting. On occasion, I have found mold release lines that just have to be removed, but for the most part, these are cleanly molded figures. I would also add that it would be a good idea to anneal the plastic to reduce the inevitable curves found most plastic figures (bent musket anyone?). Heating them in very hot water and then allowing them to cool slowly should help. An electric hair dryer might also be useful instead. After priming with your favorite compatible primer, just paint them as you normally would. A protective coat of matte or gloss varnish, depending on your preference should be the last step.

Below are a few of the pictures (including a couple of Continentals which I get into next time)

 This one above shows 7 of the 8 poses included (a kneeling and firing militiaman is the eighth. The middle one is a closer view of my three favorite poses. Finally, the below photo shows two of the Continentals, not my best photo work, but you get the idea.

With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, this will be the last post for 2019. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday. Maybe, just maybe, 2020 will see the peace and hope this season promises!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A New (for me) Source of Figures

Build an Army (Part 7)

Ah, November... it was a cruel and trying month! After a relatively "comfortable" start, which allowed a few more rounds of golf to be had, it reverted to its usual form here in New England: rain, clouds, more rain, cold, an odd flurry, and rain. Now we are close to the seasonal holidays and the beginning of a new year, along with the snow, sleet, and other meteorological manifestations of winter here in New England.

However, it is as good a reason as any to resume painting more figures, and searching for new sources. For those of you who have been polite enough to read my musings over the last year or so, you will know that the American War of Independence (AWI) is perhaps my favorite gaming period. For those who have known me a bit longer, you know my preference for "old school" rules, such as Charge!

I am happy to say I have discovered a new (at least to me) manufacturer of simply superb 54 mm figures: LOD Enterprises (link.)

The figures may be purchased directly from the manufacturer or from your local source of toy soldiers. They come sixteen figures to a bag, with eight different poses. The cost is about $25.00 a bag plus but I must also add, that the service by LOD is exceptional.

Currently the range has American Line, Light, and Militia infantry as well as British has Line, Light, and Grenadiers. They are made of a semi-hard plastic that takes paint very well. They are however somewhat less flexible that AIP, HaT, and IMEX. So be careful when straightening the inevitable curve gun barrels. Heating them in very hot water should help here.
American Light Infantry

Some of the more animated poses!

What struck me most about these figures is the animation they show. If you
are a stickler for all the same pose in your units, be prepared to buy several bags of each. On the other hand, if you like your figures to look like they're in a rugby scrum, they're perfect!

In the next posting, I'll cover the rest of the American/Continental forces, and then the Brits a bit later.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Winter Quarters...Almost

It is hard to believe it's been six months since I last posted anything. I must confess it has been a busy summer and early fall with several trips both here and abroad, the most notable a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean: Malta, Rhodes, Crete, Sicily, Greece, Italy, and several Greek islands. As interesting as they were, it was tiring: my fitness tracker indicated that we walked nearly forty miles (mostly uphill both ways, it seemed) over the course of the 12 days. 

I also have seen and learned more about Venetian and Maltese fortifications, as well as ancient ruins,  then I could possibly imagine (or care). Our guides were very knowledgeable, albeit a bit pedantic. Here's a picture taken in Malta:

Well, golf season is also winding down, Halloween is around the corner, closely followed by Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and perhaps one or two I have forgotten. So, we retreat to the hobby room; there are Saxons, Franconians, Swabians, and a host of others to paint, base, and organize.

As I mentioned in my last post, the old idea of a mythical campaign based on the equally mythical War of Franconian Succession (very loosely based on the actual, and mostly forgotten, War of Bavarian Succession), reappeared. The most daunting task was the rules. I've done a number of games using the classic Charge! rules, but the large numbers of figures per unit was a bit daunting.

Enter another set I've used, designed for 54's, called All the King's Men by Ken Cliffe. Unfortunately, he is no longer in business, but there is still a Facebook page, so perhaps copies can still be obtained. They are fast moving, with lots of dice, and a lot of fun. Since the units are usually 8 to 14 figures, the painting aspect is more manageable. Indeed, as the Franconians (and Hessians) wore a Prussian style uniform, a simple change in the unit standard will suffice. So, I can say with some assurance, the Franconian army is pretty much complete.

Aux drapeaux, mes brave soldats! La gloire sera la notre!

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